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Kathryn Letson has always had a knack for predicting fashions.

Now the Minnesota native, who lives in a vast Park Slope condo with her husband, Tony, and their dogs, Olive and Angel, has finally gone out on her own after 16 years working as a designer for Abercrombie & Fitch, DKNY and Gap.

When she opened trend inc., a fashion trend forecasting service, Letson wasn’t sure if New York’s fashion elite would trek to Brooklyn to check out her wares. But within less than three months, the fashion fortuneteller has amassed a list of clients that includes corporate moguls such as Calvin Klein, Gap, Target and Osh Kosh.

While her specialty is forecasting next year’s trends, Letson sat down with GO Brooklyn this week to lay out what fashionistas should be donning this spring.

Be on the look out for bright colors. With the nation at war, this year’s fashions will be about making people happy, said Letson, 38, who was sporting a turquoise short-sleeve shirt and white capri pants with a pair of Birkenstocks.

"There’s a return to femininity," said Letson, predicting this year’s fashions will include more "girly and sweet" styles than in years past, with an emphasis on innocence.

"People want comfort and happiness. Life is so complicated lately, people don’t want to think so much about getting dressed," she said.

That also means, be on the lookout for vintage denim. And we’re not talking about your mother’s bellbottom jeans, either. According to Letson, people are dying to get their hands on denim from the 1940s and ’50s. Vintage Big Mac jeans can mean big money: Letson just sold a pair for $350 to a designer looking for inspiration for next year’s lines.

But for Letson, that’s a drop in the hat. Some designers come in and spend thousands for her style inspirations.

Letson’s apartment-cum-studio is what she calls a "candy store for designers." Among the troves of treasures are vintage pieces Letson has amassed throughout her travels around the world, and now that she has struck out on her own, throughout her travels of the World Wide Web.

For him

While she tends to focus on women’s fashion trends, Letson still has advice to offer men this spring.

T-shirts remain a staple. Only this year, said Letson, there’s an abundance of self-affirming messages posted upon those faithful tees. She recalled seeing a man sporting the message, "I’m going to pump myself up."

Also big for men are vintage Lacoste and Izod sportswear, pull-down hats, anything by designer Paul Smith and stripes and patterns.

According to Letson, vintage items can be an important staple of a man’s wardrobe. Because men are so much more limited than women, sartorially speaking, vintage is one of the few opportunities they have to be unique.

Tracking trends isn’t easy work, but Letson loves it. In addition to perusing clothing racks and watching the city’s daily fashion parade, she spends hours each day pouring through Ebay and buying up castaway clothing, mostly from Canada and the south, which she says are little-recognized fashion hubs.

In fact, Letson will be heading south this August to check out the world’s longest yard sale, stretching 450 miles from Gadsden, Ala., to Covington, Ky. There she hopes to pick up key vintage items that she’ll either transform with her sewing machine or sell to designers as-is for inspiration.

Where to shop

For those who cannot make it to the "450 Mile Flea Market," Letson suggests checking out a host of Web sites for style advice. Her favorites include, (which she describes as "The Gap of Europe") and (Since it costs $17,000 to subscribe to the Worth Global Style Network, you might want to find a friend with a password or just stick to reading their newsletter.)

As for clothing stores in Brooklyn, Letson lists among her favorites: Beacon’s Closet, at 220 Fifth Ave.; Hootie Couture, at 321 Flatbush Ave.; Refinery, at 254 Smith St.; and Debbie Fisher Jewelry, at 233 Smith St.

Her final fashion mantra: "Be open and flexible to where you’ll find your style." A self-described non-discriminatory shopper, Letson says she’s just as likely to find inspiration in a 99-cent store as she is at Barney’s.

And what pray tell does Letson see in her crystal ball for next spring?

Let’s just say, be on the lookout for culottes.


For a consultation with Kathryn Letson of trend inc., call (718) 623-3830.

Updated 4:00 pm, November 10, 2010
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emma grace from winsconsin says:
this thing sucks!!! I hate brooklyn paper it gay
Nov. 8, 2008, 8 pm

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