Trend Forecaster Haysun Hahn: The Queen of Cool

Haysun Hahn gets paid to be hipper than the rest of us


| November-December 1997



Section Articles: 

Introduction
Being True to Yourself in a World that's Losing its Cool

Hip Hot Spots
15 of the hippest neighborhoods in the U.S and Canada

Let Them Eat Lifestyle
From hip to hype -- the ultimate coporate takeover by The Baffler's Tom Frank

Beyond Hip
Looking for something better than the Next Big Thing

The Queen of Cool
Haysun Hahn gets paid to be hipper than the rest of us

Are Black People Cooler than White People?
Dumb Question.

How I Escaped My Addiction to Hip
by playwright and screenwriter Eve Ensler

It Took a Village 
There's nothing new about business co-opting hip life

Somewhere in the darkest, coldest corner of Sweden, there’s a hotel made entirely of ice. Haysun Hahn, globetrotting arbiter of all things hip, wants to go there, but she has run into a problem. "I can't get anyone to go with me," she says with an exasperated sigh. "My assistants refuse to sleep on beds of ice. They don't understand why I want to go there, but they will."

How could a place so cold possibly be hot? Take Hahn's word for it. As director of New York–based Bureau de Style, one of the world's top trend-forecasting agencies, Hahn is used to being one step ahead of the pack. She's in the business of predicting the latest hip trend, and she takes her research seriously.

Take cold and ice, for instance.

"Cold weather is really a lot more interesting to people right now than warm weather," Hahn explains. "Alaska is important. Antarctica is a big issue. Winter sports like snowboarding are also hot. Any piece of art with a snowflake or an icicle in it right now sells for $10,000 more than one without. We're on the verge of something big here, really on the cutting edge."

It doesn't matter that the rest of the world isn't yet aware of Hahn's ultracool new trend. In fact, it's probably a good sign. The business of determining hip is an edgy one, requiring an open mind, a high degree of confidence, and a keen set of antennae. Hahn, now 40ish, has been sharpening her forecasting skills for 14 years, first as an art student, then in retail at Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy's, Bloomingdale's, and Selfridges, among others. Before founding Bureau de Style, she was creative marketing director for Promostyl USA, a Paris-based trend-forecasting agency. "I have a hard time with people who think trending is all about sitting in cafés and watching the world go by," she says. "People who are good at this business are not simply voyeurs. We are people who live the hip life, people who participate as well as observe."

Just what is this trending? The way Hahn sees it, she's facilitating the natural "trickle up" of trends—where versions of the music, activities, and fashions percolating in art galleries, on skateboards, in nightclubs, and in coffee shops eventually make their way to corporate boardrooms around the world. "I'm an interpreter," she says. "I'm hired to explain what all the pieces mean when you put them together. This is something that happens naturally—to a degree—but people like me, we turn it all around much more quickly."