Off the Cuff with Trend Forecaster Haysun Hahn

Haysun Hahn is a multi-hyphenated New Yorker. During her 30-plus years observing and forecasting trends, consumer tendencies, colors and design for Cotton Inc., Promostyl, Bureau de Style and more, Hahn has influenced footwear, electronics, retail and global events, including the Olympics. Hahn also earned a bragging right envied by all proper New Yorkers: She developed the New York Yankee’s blue.
“When you have a career this long, you’ve had some time to specialize in a few things, and I’m doing many different things,” she said about her multi-hyphenated title. Hahn’s diverse resume—from selecting colors for Patagonia, to helping financial institutions gain an understanding of how consumers spend as retail and fashion change—serves as example of how trends touch every industry.
A love of “things and objects,” which Hahn says is a trait of her generation, led her into forecasting, but the power of consumerism has held her attention. “I have the privilege to observe change and share with others how that manifests in our physical and environmental domain, including how we live and where we live,” she said. “I’m really turned on by change. To be around that constantly is thrilling.”
Hahn is currently working with Barnes and Noble Education to better understand how consumers spend in the collegiate environment, and to ultimately help merchandisers execute the best ways to service the company’s 700 retail locations. “It’s very interesting because there’s a mixed consumer profile who go into these stores to spend their parents’ money, scholarship money,” she said. “It’s fun to see how much and what kinds of things they buy.”
Projects like this are a reminder that America and in particular, American youth, are not separate from global trends. “We like to claim regional differences, but globally youth are alike because they have the same media. Trends and products actually move very slowly because the global community has to love it before it becomes a trend. It’s a uniform,” Hahn explained.
For Hahn, that global stamp of approval on trends is all the more reason to attend textile events like NYC Textile Week, as she considers New York to be the most global city in the world. “New York is very important for trends, especially for textiles,” she said. “When I go to shows, I look at new stuff but also how we can apply it to how we live. There’s a weak connection between textiles and consumers, so I’m always looking for those key things that I can start preaching about.”
In the last 10 to 15 years, Hahn says textiles have become “mysterious things” to consumers, despite being a medium touching their bodies. “Most people don’t know what viscose or microfiber is, or why their denim stretches. You have to tell them they aren’t jeans, that they’re leggings,” she quipped.
Hahn advocates for better lines of communication between the textile industry, consumer product companies and consumers. She said it is crucial to move forward, and she sees New York Textile Week as an opportunity to forge those connections. “It’s a very important to know how far we’ve come and how far we can go,” Hahn said. “When I’m working with my sports clients, if they do not understand textiles and products, then we can’t advance.”
She added, “It is textiles that have made many changes. Textiles have changed faster than fashion.”