John Caramanica asked master clothing curator/retailer Brian Procell how he always seems to know what the big trends will be (in an interview on NYT Popcast, “The shrinking space between band t-shirt and high fashion”). Procell’s answer applies to all walks of life.
To paraphrase, “If you’re really paying attention now, you’ll always know what is going to happen next. Nothing happens overnight.”
I know what you’re thinking – that’s it? Just pay attention?! And yes, that’s it.
It’s all 10-years-in-the-making overnight success stories, or as William Gibbons said, “the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed.”
Procell has studied the role merchandise has serviced in music as he’s bought and sold collectible pieces for a few decades. We might say he has his finger on the pulse, but that also implies he’s located and is in touching distance to the body that contains that pulse.
Just like Tim O’Reilly teaches in What’s the Future, we have to pay attention, construct a map, and follow along.
On our map, we’ll see lots of people/companies/tech/etc. doing nothing except marking space and time. There is always a body of work around anything interesting.
However, upon close and continuous observation, we can locate a pulse – we can find where the attention is clustering.
That’s a skill we can only hone with interest.
Make a mental map, understand the terrain as a system, find the pulse, and track it.
Ps. And, if you need something to wear, check out Procell’s store next time you’re in NYC.