As the Senior Editor of Digital Media and Marketing at WGSN, Sarah Owen has spent her career examining trends in pop culture and translating them into the forecasting direction for a wide variety of industries, including fashion.
During her career, Sarah has worked with publications like Kinfolk, Vogue, and Nylon. She’s reported backstage from New York Fashion Week, written for The New York Times, and interviewed Karl Lagerfeld. For Sarah, endless analysis to identify and predict which micro-trends will eventually become meaningful is just a day in the life.
How did you get started in your career?
I got started in journalism and photography quite early in Australia. I used to be the editor-at-large of a now defunct street publication called Clay, back in 2007. During that time I was also doing street style photos at festivals way before it was really a thing. I had a handful of different jobs in Australia, the most prominent one was at Country Road. I came to NYC to assist at Vogue, and that’s when my career started to take off.
How did you get the job you have now?
I joined WGSN as an assistant covering global youth trends. As the company evolved, so did my role. I ended up as Senior Editor of digital media & marketing trends. It felt like a natural transition; now I’m forced to stay tuned into cultural happenings across social media.
What are you working on?
My current role includes a lot of monitoring and reporting on social media trends, marketing strategies, and new technologies. I’ll be paying attention to all of these aspects, embedded into a collection or used to enhance a show, during New York Fashion Week.
What is most meaningful to you about your career?
Meeting and working with some of the most talented and inspiring brains in the industry – both internally and externally. My colleague Andrea Bell (who heads up our Think Tank directory) constantly motivates me and brings the most innovative perspective to the table. Getting to be a part of the conversations that shape the future is the most rewarding part of working at WGSN.
What are you really good at?
Being curious and being a chameleon.
Most glamorous moment in your career thus far?
Two that come to mind include the time I took a private jet to an Opening Ceremony and Intel launch during a blizzard in NYC. We needed to get to Las Vegas, so just balled out, basically. The other glamorous moment was interviewing Karl Lagerfeld, which was a childhood dream really.
Getting to be a part of the conversations that shape the future is the most rewarding part of working at WGSN.
What do you wish more people understood about your job?
I wish more people knew that we do more than fashion-based trend forecasting. WGSN serves a multitude of industries spanning from retail and design to automotive and fast-moving consumer goods. We work in real time up to two years in advance on trends.
What are a few challenges you see facing communicators right now?
I think a few key ones are keeping up with the pace of change, especially with the increase in technology/innovation. Measuring ROI is a tough one for marketers along with the need to allow consumers to have control and be an integral part of a brand’s story.
What would you tell someone who wants to do what you do when they grow up?
Stay focused and hungry. Consume as much information outside of the industry you work in so that you bring unique knowledge that complements what you are expected to know.