The president of The Doneger Group tells Laura Jackson why his trend prediction and market analysis agency is at the top of its game.
What areas of fashion does The Doneger Group cover?
The business has a number of divisions. The core is the Henry Doneger Association, through which we provide retailers with consulting services and business and market analysis. Alongside it is HD International, which provides information, sourcing and product development to international retailers; Price Point Buying, which offers retailers profit-boosting information; and Carol Hoffman, which provides market coverage for specialist womenswear retailers.
Then there are the trend services. The main one is Doneger Creative Services, which provides clients with in-depth fashion and trend analysis. Then there is Tobe, which we acquired in 2005. It comprises editors who analyse the industry and report from fashion and retail perspectives, producing 36 publications a year.
How has the business changed?
When I started we had 30 employees in a 5,000sq ft office. Now we have 150 employees in a 150,000sq ft office opposite Madison Square Garden in New York.
The business began by providing buying services to small independent womenswear stores. It has evolved into a merchandising, fashion and trend advisory and consulting company offering services for womenswear, menswear, kidswear, accessories and a recently added footwear and beauty arm.
We work with everyone from specialist clothing shops and department stores to non-fashion-related businesses wanting our knowledge.
Why did you open an office in Los Angeles?
We opened our office in LA in October 2005 as a complementary arm to our New York base. It has six people staffing it and focuses on the LA market from a lifestyle perspective – many denim lines evolved from LA and we believe it is a growing area.
We plan to expand our west coast coverage as I think it is a distinctly different market out there. Fashion in LA is more laid back and has a relaxed vibe that is increasingly attractive to other markets.
How did you become president?
The business was started by my father as a buying office in 1946. I graduated from college in 1973 and initially planned to go travelling through Europe for a month with a friend, but just before the trip he backed out. My father convinced me to start working for the business, despite my ambitions to travel, and I went on to work with my dad for 20 years before he retired.
What makes Doneger stand out from other trend prediction services?
Doneger is a really exciting company and I think it has a great energy. Our employees really are experts in the field and have a real passion for the industry. Many come from retail background or are former FIT (New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology) students. I think we have a nice balance of experience and youth but crucially we are all young in spirit, mind, thinking and energy.
What services do you provide to the UK?
We have had clients in the UK since the mid-1980s. Many UK companies subscribe to Doneger Creative Services and our trend presentations are always well attended by people working in fashion. We have worked with high-profile UK retailers including Selfridges, Arcadia and Debenhams.