Talking Trends with Kathy Phillips

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Posted by: Kristin Crane Category: Trendspotting Tags: Comments: 0

Talking Trends with Kathy Phillips

This month we are talking trends with Kathy Phillips, Vice President Design/Trend/Curator at Springs Creative. Kathy oversees the creative process for all printed fabrics by the yard for stores that cater to home sewers, quilters, and makers, as well as the home furnishings market. She is also a talented and creative woman who has a keen eye for trends and translating those trends to the specific needs of her customers.

Kathy starts off her formal trend research by utilizing her relationship with WGSN, a world global trend forecasting company. She and her team work closely with the Home & Lifestyle team reviewing current and upcoming trends from WGSN’s exhaustive research. Springs Creative owns Baxter Mill Archive, which encompasses over 600,000 antique documents. Kathy and her design team provide designs from the archives for the Print and Pattern report with WGSN. These reports also help to guild the design team in creating their own seasonal prints throughout the year.

Trend reports created by Springs Creative are also valuable when presenting to customers and often need to be tailored to the particular needs of each one. Some customers are very forward-thinking and want to be on the cutting edge of a trend. However, others are more conservative and want to wait until a trend has embedded itself into the culture and has a wide-reaching appeal.

What trends do Kathy see at Springs Creative for spring and fall 2021?

First, the earth is looming large in a lot of trends. People are feeling aware of its fragility, its beauty, and how our behavior and habits can be more sustainable. Kathy sees a focus on the elements, especially water, in a couple of different ways. From a production side, as the population becomes more aware of the damage being done to our oceans, people are yearning for more transparency and sustainability in the manufacturing of what they buy. From the design side, water and ocean motifs are becoming popular design elements. Kathy sees designs with a lot of texture, movement, and blues; such as Pantone’s color of the year. It even has a more direct influence on motifs such as sand, seashells, coral, and sea turtles.

Similarly, people want to feel grounded, and that is coming out in a focus on surfaces. Kathy is reminded of many different surfaces of the earth and sees this expressed in neutrals, warm colors, and soft textures.

The fragility of places on earth, such as rainforests burning in South America and the Australian bushland, has brought those parts of the world into our consciousness. A need to protect and preserve influence the use of tropical leaves, animals, and lush greens.

It’s not just the physical earth and its environment that people are focused on, but also the people living on it. Historical and ethnic textiles from around the world often show up in trends, but now there is more of a focus on the cultures. Who are these weavers living in the Andes who have woven these brocaded cloths? Who are these block printers in West Africa designing resist-dyed fabrics? Of the trends she sees, this is one of Kathy’s favorites. “I like how it brings people together. It’s not just about us. It’s about the whole world.” It’s essential to see where these trends come and use them in other applications with respect.

This awareness of the earth and its challenges, brings a desire to be more mindful.

People are craving an alternative to the high stimulation of our current society. In an age where everyone’s Instagram feeds start to look the same, people long for self-expression and unique spaces of their own. Whether this manifests in where they live, what they wear, or what they make, people are craving unique options for their lives.

As someone with experience in the industry, Kathy sees how trend forecasting has changed over the years. The whole process of design to the finished product happens faster. The world of fast fashion created a system where people want new trends all the time. Sometimes they change so quickly that they are just quick fads and never fully take hold as a trend. This need for speed can be fun to capitalize on, or easy to miss out on. That is definitely one of the advantages of print-on-demand digital printing. It gives a designer the ability to jump on a trend quickly and react to market demand.

How does she keep her eye fresh in a world of constant stimulation?

Kathy’s insight and eye for design are inspiring. She values keeping inspired as key to continuing to do high-quality creative work. For example, when she’s not working, she loves to take classes to keep pushing herself to learn new skills. Recently she’s been taking classes in shibori and low immersion dye techniques. Making something with her hands keeps her grounded, and learning something new continually influences you in ways that might surprise you. Being curious is a sure way to know you always have an eye out for the next new trend.

Pillows made by Kathy with her dyed fabrics.

Trends come and go and cycle in and out of fashion. So, what is one trend Kathy would be happy never to see again? “Leggings with legwarmers, with the headbands.” No Jane Fonda workouts for Kathy, that’s for sure. Add some inspiration to your feeds by following Kathy on Instagram, and be sure to follow Design Pool too if you’re not already.

Thanks so much to Kathy for talking trends with us! Enjoying this series, be sure you didn’t miss our conversation with Wendy Noory, Director of Design at Panolam Surface Systems or Mark Denecour from P/Kaufmann Contract.


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