By Alejandra Perez, Illustration by Hayley Webber
I came across Geraldine Wharry because, besides doing Trend Forecasting and Fashion Design, she also works as guest speaker for different universities across the UK, including Southampton Solent. Before listening to Geraldine’s talk during my first week of university, I didn’t particularly understand what Trend Forecasting was about; however, her speech made the career sound so creatively enriching that after leaving the lecture room I almost convinced myself that doing the same as her was my destiny, which comes as no surprise considering she has received the London College of Fashion Inspirational Speaker Award. Now, towards the end of my degree and with a more defined career path, I had the luck to interview her for Crave in order to provide our readers with an idea of what it takes to become self-employed in such a tough industry.
Geraldine is from a multi-cultural and bilingual family; born in Paris to an American mother. She studied Textile Design at École Duperré and Parsons School of Design before moving permanently to New York, where she settled for five years; after that, she relocated to LA and stayed there for six.
Whilst in the US, Geraldine was working for different brands that produced large amounts of collections per year, which led to her having to consider new career options. “I needed to press the reset button, I felt really dried out in terms of my creativity, I really loved my jobs as a designer and I worked with great people. It’s just that the process is quite exhausting when you’re producing such a large amount of collections during the year,” she says. “It was also coinciding with the fact that I had been in the States for a long time and I was wondering if there was where I wanted to grow old and have a family so I thought ‘no you know what, I just really want to be back to where I am from, in Europe’, and London had always been a place I was really interested in plus it is really close to Paris so I moved to London and the opportunity at WGSN popped up, so I took it.”
When she began to work for WGSN as Senior Designer and Trend Forecaster of Womenswear, they still offered downloadable sketches within the future concepts, which was perfect as it allowed her to put reports together as well as sketching, meaning she didn’t have to leave design behind despite not working in the area. However, towards the end of her time there, they retired this feature in the department she worked in, which made her starved for designing. As a result of this, Geraldine embarked on a journey of trying to find a balance, which is why she decided to open her own agency.
“I’m more of an individual and this is how I market myself. I’m not trying to be a big company, I’m trying to be one that has strong collaborators, I mean, I do reports for other trend companies, I don’t feel territorial at all.”
Geraldine’s office is based in Kensal Rise, which is used as agency as well as atelier for her SERIES collections; additionally, it also happens to be her home. The two-bedroom house has a spacious living room that is used as office. She tells me about Rick Owen’s studios, which are directly below his apartment. “That’s what I want my life to be. So for me working from home is not just because it makes sense financially or whatever, I do really love it.” Despite having a small office, she doesn’t consider it a disadvantage, “People always overestimate the size of companies. I just had a meeting with a very big corporate world famous company and their design team is tiny, you would be shocked at how small teams are.” Finding that balance she wanted so badly whilst trying to gain a reputation for her consultancy took her two years of hard work. Eager to get back to designing, Geraldine created her concept collection SERIES, which offers a range of ten pieces only. “I couldn’t wait any longer, I needed to do it and design. I didn’t want to go back to design just to do huge collections the way I used to but I didn’t want to not design at all, I needed it to be a passion project.”
Although Geraldine is evidently an incredibly ambitious individual, she admits that she is not trying to compete with large agencies such as WGSN, as she prides herself on creating a unique trend-sharing platform. “I’m more of an individual and this is how I market myself. I’m not trying to be a big company, I’m trying to be one that has strong collaborators, I mean, I do reports for other trend companies, I don’t feel territorial at all.”
“At the beginning I had inner doubt about my work and it was getting in the way of me approaching people with conviction, everything changed the moment I decided how I was going to position myself.”
A lesson that can be learned after listening to Geraldine’s story is to become multidisciplinary. In her agency, she works as textile designer, photographer, filmmaker, website maker and graphic designer. “I think that is the name of the game now,” she says. She believes that in order for others to respect your work you must have your own personal opinion and make sure to share it with others over and over again, ‘I share my views on where trends are going, where society is going and how it is impacting design and choices people can make but I am not trying to analyse the whole design industry”, she says. She also suggests there must be a strong conviction in the work that you present, as this reflects in the way you sell yourself to others, “at the beginning I had inner doubt about my work and it was getting in the way of me approaching people with conviction, everything changed the moment I decided how I was going to position myself.”
“People need to think a little bit beyond working for a forecasting agency because there are a lot of interesting marketing ones, there are also lots of cool brands that have their own trends or concepts departments.”
Her advice for those wishing to follow the root of Trend Forecasting is to do an internship in the area first, see the reasons why the career appeals to you and also consider different options, “I’m surprised by how many people want to do it, I don’t think there are that many jobs in that area. There are not many trend agencies out there, and the full time teams are often small, with them using freelancers. People need to think a little bit beyond working for a forecasting agency because there are a lot of interesting marketing ones, there are also lots of cool brands that have their own trends or concepts departments.” Additionally, she also wants those studying Fashion Design considering going down the Trend Forecasting route merely for the fact that they enjoy putting moodboards together and doing research, to consider that those are done within any design team.
Geraldine is currently working on SERIES #003, which will be shown in Paris at Menswear Fashion Week. In order to raise funds for this, her agency is doing a kick-starter campaign on may 17th. “To help fund it we are putting a kick-starter campaign with loads of cool giveaways so I’m going to publish a manifesto about trend forecasting and there will be things for people who want to learn about the topic but then there will also be my designs so it has been a ton of work.” (Check out @series_untitled for more details).
If you wish to donate towards Geraldine’s project click here. The project will only be funded if it reaches its goal so please do so!!
Suscribe here to gain full access to Geraldine’s future foresight on key concepts, products and behaviours impacting the style industries.
Check out Hayley Webber’s (Illustrator of featured image) work here.