Staying On Top: An Interview with Vincent Grégoire, Creative Director of NellyRodi
EVER WONDERED HOW TOP BRANDS DECIDE WHAT PRODUCTS OR SERVICES THEY ARE GOING TO LAUNCH NEXT? HOW THEY SOMEHOW KNOW WHAT YOU WILL LIKE BEFORE YOU’VE EVER SEEN IT OR HEARD OF IT? AND HOW THEY DESIGN AND INSTITUTE SALES AND MARKETING TACTICS THAT ARE TIMELY AND IRRESISTIBLE? NELLYRODI IS YOUR ANSWER.
If you are LVMH, Nike, Victoria’s Secret, L’Oreal, Nordstroms or countless other brands in the fashion, luxury, beauty, home, food, and services industry, you commission the services of the innovation and creativity agency NellyRodi.
With offices in Paris, Tokyo and New York, NellyRodi is known as the world’s leading trend forecasting agency for their uncanny ability to help their clients “get tomorrow right today.” Their agile and innovative approach coupled with their coveted network make them one of the most sought after and well-respected business consultants for any company looking to expand, pivot, or perfect their product and service offerings.
NellyRodi’s team of trendhunters scour the globe analyzing and deciphering consumer behaviors, attitudes, and habits in order to identify trends to come. Then working side by side with the agency’s marketing, branding, creative, and business specialists, NellyRodi produces and sells Trend Books and helps their clients determine and implement the most effective and pro table ways to design, produce, market and sell their products and services.
One of NellyRodi’s key gures is Vincent Grégoire, creative director and lead trendhunter for the agency’s lifestyle department. Vincent has been part of the NellyRodi family for over 25 years and is a master of observing and analyzing all that surrounds him, piecing together the clues to find the next trends and then the best way for his client’s to apply them.
I had the honor of speaking with Vincent to learn more about his multifaceted and intriguing profession.
I began our interview by asking him about how he came to be a trendhunter and if there was a specific moment that he recalled saying to himself, “ah ha, I was made for this job.”
Vincent told me when he was young he wanted to be an archeologist or a detective. Obsessed with the idea of finding and collecting clues to understand how things work, or where they came from, he spent lots of time doing puzzles and observing the world around him in the city of Rennes where he grew up. He told me how lucky he was to have lived in this city that was the center of creativity in France in the early 80s, as it gave him the opportunity to meet many talented musicians, artists, and designers. Thus began his fascination with fashion, but when it came time to go to college his parents denied his yearning to study fashion and helped him make the more practical decision to study architecture. A good compromise Vincent told me.
After finishing school a mutual friend introduced Vincent to Nelly Rodi, the head of her namesake agency which she founded in 1985, because they believed Vincent had the mentality of a trendhunter. The rst time he met Nelly she didn’t have a job for him, but she told him she liked the way he imagined and collected information, so she introduced him to a friend of hers, the famous decorator, Agnès Comar. Vincent and Agnès met and he became the artistic director for her rm. After about 3 years there, Nelly Rodi came back to Vincent and said ok I have something for you, and thus began his journey with the NellyRodi agency.
The first project Vincent was assigned at NellyRodi was to look at trends for a costume company. He told me “I thought, ah wow that is the job for me because I get do lots of different things, uncover lots of things, not just one area — not only in design, sociology, graphics — a mix of all the approaches that are really complimentary.”
“So I didn’t know I was a trendhunter or that this job existed, but it was at random.” Vincent continued. “I was obsessed, I am still obsessed, by the idea of collecting things. Things that when you take them separated they don’t have something special, they just attract me and at the end, ah yes this idea, plus this idea, plus this idea it’s making sense. And when I have discussions with other members of the dream team of NellyRodi, then ok, ah we have the same element and we think the same way and we begin to build something. But at the beginning it’s like a game, investigating. Always looking for clues. I am very curious, always looking at everything, everything interests me, a book about sociology, an art exhibition, a fashion show, food, gardening, I am attracted by lots and lots of things. I always try to understand, to look for things that are captivating, surprising, bizarre, so all the clues I am looking for are always something strange, astonishing, surprising, captivating.”
So what exactly does Vincent do at NellyRodi and how does he and his team find and decide on what trends are coming? Here is what he had to say…
“I am in charge of everything lifestyle, not fashion, there is another dreamteam for that. Lifestyle is about a new way of living, new way of consuming, new way of thinking.
The first step is deciphering consumer attitudes, habits, and behaviors. What do the consumers have in mind, the evolution of their relation to mobility, to food, to wellbeing, to how there home is going to look, how they travel, where they travel.
Then we move on to how to apply those analyses to architecture, design, food, beauty, leisure, mobility, to lots of things. And how to apply them to trend recommendations.
Some of our clients are only looking for trends — ideas, moodboards, ideas for samples, materials, nishes, patterns. Others are looking for more — they say ok you are giving us recommendations, but now help us design the collection.
I am not a designer, because there is someone else in charge of the technical process, but sometimes I can be very close to the recommendation. And then it’s also being close to people who are going to buy, or going to merchandise, or in charge of the sonography, communication of products, PR, events, installations, exhibitions, really covering a wide spectrum of information and recommendations from analysis to installation to application. And also worldwide, because our clients are in France, Sweden, Korea, Spain, China they are everywhere.
So we make local and global recommendations. Recommendations must also be tailored to different levels of business. Each project is always very different, never the same.
We work very horizontally — part of the team is more in the marketing pro le, another more in the creative pro le, another closer to service, studies, sociology, everyone works all together sharing lots of things. Everyone looking at fascinating elements with their own ways of looking. Some are more obsessed with social media, what’s happening on the internet, digital life. So we have different characters, different personalities, different identities, different cultures too.
But sometimes we meet all together and put everything on the table and we try to understand the link between what everyone has seen. We have some specific moments where everyone is sharing intuitions, and convictions and it’s really an important moment where we can build a strategy or where we can exchange and we can really understand, because if you are alone it is impossible you disappear, a trendhunter that is alone won’t survive. We need to be fed by other people, we need to exchange, we need to discuss, to shout, to cry, there is a lot of patience in our job.
Ok the first step is intuition, it’s very subjective, why something has attracted us more than something else, but why something has attracted a few members of the dream team and not something else, so why, everybody has focused on the same talent or color at the same time, that is something that is irrational, we work with data, but the first step is analysis and intuitions and moods and feelings — totally subjective. Surprising and intriguing, we need to share, discuss, build something all together. And then everybody, according to their own personality, talent, expertise, has to develop some direction. But we have to digest all that sort of information first in trend books, publications, inspiration books, and then into products, synographies, strategies for specific clients.”
NellyRodi produces two different types of Trend Books which are sold to major brands and retailers to nurture their product development and marketing approaches. “There is one called the Life & Style trend book which is more consumer profiles, consumer oriented, understanding their lifestyle in architecture, mobility, food, beauty, new talents, etc.,” Vincent explained. “This is the first step, with this book we feed the other publications. It is a big book with lots to read, see, touch, feel — it is supposed to be the starting point — trends, consumer profiles according to attitudes. Then there are more specific books for home decoration, for beauty, for colors, for patterns, for fashion, womenswear, menswear.”
In addition to their trend books, the agency offers consultation services which include bespoke recommendations tailored to the client’s specific needs and goals. “Sometimes our clients are looking for something light,” Vincent said, “and sometimes they are looking for something really heavy, consistent, with really precise recommendations, a to do list, something easily operational. Some are asking for something more inspirational, and more emotional, and some others are looking for something really precise and with convictions, and not so many ideas, one idea, a key idea, a key product a key color.”
Curious about what it takes to be a trendhunter, next I asked Vincent what tips he would give to a business owner who is looking to do some trend forecasting on their own.
He told me, “Don’t block yourself, don’t judge. Be curious, be passionate, and never say no.”
Then elaborated, “Be curious, it’s about curiosity, and patience. Don’t judge anything. There’s nothing chic or ridiculous — something that you love one day you will hate the next, and something that you hate you will love.
Don’t judge. Don’t say ‘no.’ Say, ‘ok, let’s be exible.’ Have an open mind. Look at everything, everything is inspiring. It’s not because you’re working in the furniture business that you only have to look at what’s happening in furnishings, look at what’s happening in lots of different elds.
You need to be happy, to be fresh, to be surprised. You still have to be every day like a child ready to be surprised, ready to be open.”
Love Happens and our publisher KOKET are run by women and are highly focused on empowering other women, so we just had to ask if Vincent saw any trends that pertain specifically to women in business?
He told me, “I’m intrigued by crazy women, women who are following their instincts, women who are working not only with their head, but also with their belly, working with feeling, working with intuition and following their intuition and women who are not calculating. Women who are a little bit crazy, a little bit out of the box, and changing the rules of the game. Women who don’t want to fight with men, but bring an alternative. There’s a strong feminine wave at the moment, lots of things are shaken up, because it’s the end of a system that’s falling down, and a new system is beginning to appear. I believe a lot in a new wave of femininity, but happy, smiley, irrational. So, women who are promoting pleasure. We have this saying in french, when someone says ‘ok we have to go in this direction, follow me,’ and she’s showing the way, showing the light, someone very charismatic. This is how I imagine interesting women and interesting talents and managers.”
Vincent and I spoke about many other topics as well which we will be sharing via www.lovehappensmag.com so be sure to visit and read more about what Vincent had to say on the effects of the digital world and social media; on trends and how they are forecasted and applied; the role of trends on the success of a brand; what consumer trends can we expect in the next 2 years; and an exciting new adventure for NellyRodi in the summer of 2018!
Words and Interview by: Anna Bimba
All Photos Courtesy of NellyRodi
Article Originally Appeared in Love Happens Volume 2, 2018