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C&A’s Head of Trend: ‘Women are embracing colour more than ever’

By Weixin Zha


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As C&A’s chief forecaster, Sabrina Shairzay is tasked with the job of predicting trends for the Dutch fashion retailer, which operates more than 1,500 stores in Europe alone. With her trend team, Shairzay travels the world, constantly in touch with influencers while keeping her finger firmly on the pulse of upcoming street trends. She shared her insights at C&A's last fashion show.

Sabrina, as C&A’s Head of Trend, you’re always analyzing the macro-trends shaping people’s lives. Could you tell us what you’re observing?

One of the key topics we’ve been considering are the global nomads – all the people who are moving around the world, whether they have to move or they want to move. We see a lot of mixing of influences happening because of that.

How do you then translate our increasingly nomadic lifestyle into the collections?

What we take from there is a mix of different print and material influences, we’re looking at jacquard fabrics, textures – just how it comes together.

The core customer group of C&A are women. Which kinds of trends do you see here and which are embodied in C&A’s collections?

We’ve been looking a lot at what it means to be a woman today. She can be powerful, confident, beautiful, but she can still be feminine. All the women’s rights movements across the world - the MeToo movement - all that is about really empowering women. We look at that a lot in terms of colours, patterns, silhouettes and cuts. We were presenting a lot of strong shoulders in the show today, which was really key – especially in the seventies and eighties.

Let’s take a look at the upcoming spring/summer 2020 season. What should we be aware of?

Right now, women are embracing colour more than they ever did before, which is fantastic. We were going through a very heavy print cycle for a while, now it’s all about color. We still see the utilitarian trend continuing and these retro-romantic influences that are inspired by vintage and travel.

About Sabrina Shairzay:

    Sabrina Shairzay is based in Düsseldorf, Germany, where she oversees the creative development of C&A’s categories from lingerie, nightwear, swimwear, footwear, accessories, and young fashion brand Clockhouse. Additionally, she is also defines the trends for the coming seasons. The alumni of the Fashion Institute of Technology was born in New York graduate worked at US-retailer Target as Design Manager Women’s Accessories and Handbags.

Which events are you keeping an eye on, when trying to get a sense of what people will care about next season?

There are the Olympics and the European Cup next year. Also, a lot of amazing movies that are coming out next year, like the next James Bond and Wonder Woman.

Sustainability is a trend within the fashion industry that C&A has also been embracing. What are your plans here?

From a sustainability standpoint, we’re looking in multiple categories at what it means to bring a sustainable powerful message, from denim to swimwear to accessories to apparel.

On the topic of messages, what do you think about statement shirts?

We still see messages as being really important, something that people really connect to, that speaks to how they feel. We’re looking for this emotional connection, for the statement that speaks to people for their individuality. It helps to tell people instantly who they are. It’s all about positive, powerful messages for change.

Looking back at when you first started in the fashion industry, what has been the biggest change in your profession?

What’s interesting nowadays is how much the customer influences what we do. When I first started in the industry, it was definitely rather the fashion industry dictating how people should dress. What I love now is how everybody is embracing who they are. They want to be individual, they want to make a statement. The amount of information that we’re getting from customers - especially about fit, quality and how they want to feel - really influences us now as designers.

In which ways are you trying to get closer to the customers? Is it through data?

Our e-commerce team is looking into this, but we spend a lot of time in the stores. Every Friday our design and buying team is going out to the C&A stores, but also others, checking out the street style. What are people actually wearing? How are people shopping? It’s really in our calendars, everyone needs to get out.

Picture: C&A AW19

Sabrina Shairzay