A down to earth Nostradamus of fast-moving consumer goods … Lidewij Edelkoort. Photograph: Koen Hauser
Li Edelkoort is prized by brands for her ability to predict customers’ desires. In the next decade she says we will care less about perfect clothes than a fairer world
When Lidewij – or Li – Edelkoort started her career as a trend forecaster 45 years ago, people thought her job was “witchcraft”, she says. “Men would be giggling at the end of the room. But I have gained respect,” she says, “because I have been right so many times.”
But while it is fun to imagine her as the Nostradamus of fast-moving consumer goods, her methods are relatively down to earth. Through research, interviews and travel, she picks up ideas that are “circling around”, then uses her “intuition” (“data is no use; it’s too late,” she says wearily) to predict which of them will take off.
“I can work 25 years ahead,” she says. In 2000, she tells me, she predicted that by 2025 there would be a “fusion of everything contrasting”. “Work and leisure, man and woman, very intense sport, but also laziness and meditation. I can therefore see that it is becoming [true] 100%.”
For at least 10 years, she says, trends have slowed down, becoming “vast currents which are mobilised over time”. This makes me feel a bit basic, when I then ask for assurances about whether the midi skirt I’m wearing will still be fashionable in 2025. “That idea left us somewhere in the 80s, she says drily. “Everyone can have the length they desire.”
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