A recent wrap on the Evening Standard’s ES Magazine by fashion portal, Lyst, got me thinking about how fashion is currently being bought and marketed. Armed with streams of data on sales and searches, the company fine tunes its offering to predict what you want before you even know it yourself selling from different retailers and sites in one place.
Left - Recent advert for Lyst
The advert says things like - “This week on Lyst: New York men spending 25% more on rubber-soled sneakers than New York women on high heels”.
Is this kind of information really useful? While any additional information empowers buyers and retailers to think about what is selling and what to buy again, it has be remembered that fashion isn’t a logical beast.
You can’t solely predict and buy fashion on previous sales and best-sellers. It’s a bit like trying to please a search engine, how can people search for something they don’t even know they want yet or actually exists? It’s the digital equivalent of the chicken and the egg.
Right - Can algorithms predict fashion?
Annoyingly, as fashion becomes more saturated and speeds up, the number of major changes and ideas seems to be slowing. Is it these types of buying patterns and data information that is stalling fashion? Are retailers being too cautious in order to maintain sales and offer more guaranteed return on sales?
Algorithms will never be able to replace instinct. Fashion is about instinct, a gut feeling. It’s about influential people - be they celebrities, designers, best friends - asking themselves “what do I want now?” or “I want that!”.
This starts the wave of influence along the chain across brands, designers and people which then results in the trends and then, hopefully, end sales for the retailers.
As fashion becomes more competitive and saturated it will be those with the instinct to go in their own direction who will really standout.