Stitch Fix, a San Franscisco-based personal shopping subscription box service, which pre-selects outfits for their shoppers based on their style profile, is taking the garment industry to the next level. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, Stitch Fix is now using Artificial Intelligence not only to select the right garments for each customer, but also to create them!
When thinking about AI, artificial intelligence, the first thought that pops in my mind is the movie Terminator, and the automation of our world to the point that humans become redundant. However, modern day AI is very different from the iconic Schwarzenegger movie. It augments human ability rather than replaces it. Would anyone buy clothes designed by a computer? Stitch Fix says Yes! In fact, these items will fly off the shelves!
In 2016, the company introduced and completely sold out three tops, designed with the help of computers. The complex algorithm developed by Stitch Fix allows to scrutinize the data collected from their shoppers to learn which styles, cuts and colors are most attractive to their subscribers. The software than combines elements that are most popular to create a brand new design, guaranteed to be in demand.
Here’s how it works. When you sign up to Stitch Fix, you will receive a subscription box with five pieces of clothing carefully selected for you by a stylist based on a series of questions you answered on their website. When the box arrives, you will be able to try on everything in the comfort of your home and decide which items to keep and which to return. You will then be charged for the items you kept and a new box will be shipped to you on your scheduled delivery date. It may be a hit or miss at first, but overtime, as your stylist learns your preferences, the items you receive will be more and more tailored to your needs and likes. The goal for Stitch Fix is to get you to keep as many items as possible.
But is it really that simple? Stitch Fix does employ a team of nearly 3000 stylists and is rapidly growing, expending into Plus Size, Maternity and Menswear. However, there is more to their success than human effort. As Eric Colson, chief algorithms officer at Stitch Fix, told Computerworld in an interview “Our business is getting relevant things into the hands of our customers. We couldn’t do this with machines alone. We couldn’t do this with humans alone. We’re just trying to get them to combine their powers.”
It is hard to understand a customer when you never met them in person. To compensate for this lack of personal connection, Stitch Fix uses AI and advance data analytics to really get under their shoppers’ skin and increase conversion. Now, they can not only use their algorithms to analyse purchasing patterns and preferences, but to break down the clothes themselves to see which elements, fabrics, patterns and cuts do best with their existing audience. Based on this data, Stitch Fix is able to create new garments their shoppers will love, guaranteed. They are planning to release 9 more items this year, including dresses and tops, which will be designed with the help of AI.
The concept of using computers in the creative world isn’t new. Companies like Adobe, Sony, Microsoft and Facebook use elements of AI to create art work and even music. Others use artificial intelligence and 3-D printers to create anything from furniture to car parts to even body parts! The future of this technology is very exciting, despite being only a very small segment of the market for now. With the apparel sector struggling and so many stores shutting down, this approach to understanding and predicting consumers’ wants and likes is definitely something retailers should keep an eye on.
Would you let Artificial Intelligence design you clothes?
Image source: Huffington Post