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INTERVIEW: Influencer & Trend Forecaster Olivia Pezzente

INTERVIEW: Influencer & Trend Forecaster Olivia Pezzente | Faulkner

Olivia Pezzente — who also goes by Liv — is an influencer and former Aritzia trend forecaster based in London, England.

Liv took time out of her Miami vacation to speak to us on Zoom, where she talked about the return of the uniform, how she maintains her self-confidence, and why she doesn’t own a dress.

Originally from North Vancouver, Liv grew up in an Italian family and spent her childhood in ballet studios — with a total of 18 years of dance experience. After high school she attended the former Ryerson University (now Toronto Metropolitan University), where she studied theatre for two years before switching to a Bachelor of Commerce in Retail Management. At 20, she signed to a modeling agency after her photographer friend submitted her photos — and she’s gone on to work with Aimé Leon Dore, GCDS, Prada, and Vans. She continued modeling upon her post-grad return to Vancouver while also working as an ecommerce stylist for Gastown menswear store Roden Gray.

In 2019, Liv went into product development for Aritzia’s TNA line (“Aritzia did unreal during covid by capitalizing on sweat fleece”). Having always dreamt of living in Europe, she moved to England last year and worked remotely as a trend forecaster — her favourite part of the product development cycle — for Aritzia on their seasonal trend briefs until April.

Olivia Pezzente_Aime Leon Dore_Spring 2022

What does a day as a trend forecaster involve?

Say you go to all of your favourite websites: your WGSN, Business of Fashion, Vogue, Peclers. You could do your article research there. Then runway is great. During fashion week, I sit in front of my computer and wait for all the shows, then pick out themes or details I’m seeing that are good. I also love looking at new campaigns because the stylists always know what’s up.

Micro-trends change very quickly. The biggest challenge in trend forecasting is identifying the macro-trends that will last the next five to ten years. Micro-trends anyone can spot.

Trend forecasting is instinctual. From a young age, I would see something that would be crazy or totally not in style and obsess over it and start wearing it. Basically, trend forecasting is a ton of research and going with your gut.

The industry has moved to influencers. A lot of trends start from the people — it’s not even the trend forecasters. Influencers have the power to create a trend. If they wear something weird and random and have 200,000 followers who are die-hard fans, all those people are going to start wearing that. You can do all your research and whatever, but if there’s a cool girl on Instagram wearing something, most of the time some other people are going to start wearing it.

What are going to be the big trends for spring/summer 2022?

Because fashion is so accessible now and it moves so quickly because of social media, people are finding the need to do more and do more, and be more extra than the next person to stand out. And people now are understanding that being louder isn’t better. I do love a mixed print or block colours and that’s amazing to me. But there are some outfits on social where I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I love the boldness, but you don’t need to do the most to be the most.’

I think people are going back to uniform. I was talking to someone the other day about what makes someone tasteful. For me, I love someone where they’re like, ‘Oh, that’s an Olivia outfit.’ You are recognizable like in cartoons, like how they wear the same thing every damn day. I love someone who is recognizable. Like a that-person outfit, but they’re also staying relevant with the trends but not the extra fast-moving trends. They’re staying fresh.

It’s going to go back to basics, almost. People want a great white tee and a pair of really nice, fitted pants. I’m trying to shop more archive designer instead of buying crazy new designer pieces where I’m like, ‘Oh my God that’s so cool’ and wear it for a season and forget it.

What designers are you drawn to right now?

I love designers like Nensi Dojaka, Lado Bokuchava,  Fidan Novruzova, and Dilara Findikoglu who are finding new ways for people to feel sexy. We were so closed up during covid and wearing sweatpants. I know so many people are trying to find their sexuality again and figure out what they’re comfortable in and go out in the world and friggin’ live their lives.

Olivia Pezzente_Edda Bags

How has the pandemic affected your relationship with fashion?

That fast fashion part of it has died for me. Not that I was shopping a lot of fast fashion. But now I spend so much time on depop. It made me ask, ‘What’s the point?” That kind of energy. So, I would wear sweatpants every day. And I love sweatpants but coming out of it has been inspiring. We’re all here. I feel like it’s our second go. It was very weird for the world to be trapped and have no idea what was going on.

Everything is opening up and people are traveling again. It’s our chance to have a new wind beneath us. Let’s look our best. Let’s feel our best. Let’s be sexy. Let’s be naked, who cares? Put yourself out there. If I was already feeling inspired by fashion, the pandemic has pushed it even more. ‘We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and I’m talking about clothes’ – I went through that. But clothes make people feel good. And people need to feel good.

You mentioned taking a step back from fast fashion. What are other ways you have incorporated sustainability into your life?

If sustainability is the option, choose it. I understand having an amazing fabric, but there’s amazing sustainable fabrics. Buy vintage clothing, buy what you guys do. The best things have already been made. I’m more on depop now, where I’m starting to clear out my clothes. There’s no reason to always be buying new. I also haven’t eaten meat in four years. I’m just doing my part with the little stuff.

How would you describe your personal style?

I feel my best in oversized clothes. I love feeling masculine but always with a touch of sexy. I love classic fabrics like denim and leather. I am feminine in nature, so I do always have a touch of it, but I don’t think I own one dress. I’m going to weddings this summer and I’m panicking. I’m used to putting on pants and then a belt and then a tank. There are no layers to a dress, and that freaks me out. I love a layered look! I like to feel classic but a little funky about it.

How do you know when you’ve got your outfit just right?

It’s literally just if I feel good. I’ll just know. I also don’t own a full-length mirror. That’s how much it’s how you feel inside! I ordered one in November on Etsy, and I waited and waited, and it was my dream mirror, but then I cancelled the order a month ago. I’ve been looking through my windows since I’ve moved to London.

I actually don’t know what I look like half the time. One time I was nervous for a party, and I didn’t know what to wear so I FaceTime’d my friend and put my phone on the floor and she was my full-length mirror.

Liv_Opera Sport

You exude a great deal of confidence in all photos you post. A lot of people struggle with their confidence when trying to take a selfie. How do you get and maintain that confidence?

You have to know what you’re looking at. These photos are someone on a good day. No one is posting themselves on a bad day. My period was this week, and it was tough for me to put on a bathing suit. I knew coming to Miami, and I was like, ‘Oh, damn it!’

From a young age, it was such an insecurity of mine all my life being based on looks. Even when I was a dancer on stage, I’ve always been on display. I went from dancing to modeling to Instagram. It’s always display display display.

You’ve just got to back it up. Looks literally don’t matter. You can be the most beautiful girl in the world, but if you’re not educating yourself, not making the people around you laugh, if you’re not being genuine to people, if you’re not shaking people’s hands with a massive smile on your face when you meet them, it doesn’t matter what you look like. It’s like: What am I offering here? When I started putting the work in, then my confidence grew. If you check off only one box, it means nothing. Fill yourself with education, support from your friends, and good intentions and your confidence will skyrocket.

Is TikTok next for you?

TikTok? Not on it! No. Not on TikTok. I don’t know anything about it. I’ve already missed out on jobs where they want me to do one TikTok reel and I’m like, ‘Sorry, can’t do it.’ I’m sure it’ll bite me in the ass, so I should probably get on it.

My phone time is already like five hours a day — I don’t need more time on my phone!

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.