Artificial Intelligence Enters Fashion

April 17, 2019


I first wrote about “Stitch Fix” for ADEA in a blog titled “Tech Savvy Females Reign” that appeared on March 14, 2018. CLICK HERE TO REFRESH YOUR MEMORY.

For the record, I do not remember the titles of all the ADEA blogs I’ve written and when they appeared. So I have a bright red three-hole binder to help me keep track of the month, year and headline of each blog. Since I’m now up to #250 I can’t remember what is in each one BUT when I’m reading something brand new a light goes off in my head. “Yes, yes, I wrote about that at some point,” I’ll mutter. And, sure enough, with my month/year/head info I can find it in minutes. Do you ever have the feeling that your Mac can read your mind? I do.


This is what happened when I came across an article in Glamour magazine that appeared in November 2018 titled Will Artificial Intelligence Change How You Dress? It’s a fun piece written by Elizabeth Holmes who was formerly a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and has also written for The New York Times, InStyle and Elle.

She begins by relating all the time and effort she had to put out just to find the right dress to wear as a guest at a wedding. She’s a guest at a wedding? Sounds pretty straightforward, right? No, it wasn’t. (I’m sure all of us can empathize at once.)

She reports that she was “glassy-eyed as I scrolled through page after page of options online, then I stormed laps through the mall. All the while I thought. This shouldn’t be so hard.”


Holmes goes on to report that, “within a decade artificial intelligence is poised to reinvent the shopping landscape. Think of a computer or device that knows not only your budget, but also your measurements. Even what’s already in your closet, what events are on your iCalendar and what’s trending on the runway – then uses this information to formulate the kind of suggestions that we never thought a machine would be capable of.” I’m finding this a little spooky but let’s press on.


Yes, it already has an “algorithm shopping model” that selects clothes for customers (with the help of a team of human stylists) sight unseen. The company currently has 2.7 million customers. Holmes hits the nail on the head for me with this statement, “There are some areas in which computer precision could quickly best humans, namely: WHEN IT COMES TO SIZING. Lumping customers into groups – medium and large, say, or even a 10 or a 12 – has always been a flawed system.”


She explains, “Stitch Fix data places people on a more exact spectrum (maybe you’re a smaller-chested 12 or a long-legged 8). Eric Colson, the company’s chief algorithms officer envisions a day when we will have our dimensions on a scannable chip, allowing us to find the perfect fit every time.”

The author’s conclusion is: “There are still plenty of skeptics about this technology, who (rightly) point out that fashion is an art form and also a means of self-expression – things no computer can replace.”

Since I gave up on the “sizing issue” years ago, and just keep hoping for the luck of the draw, my final thought is this: if they solve this ONE PROBLEM they’ve made a giant leap for womankind.


Shaun Nelson-Henrick

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