Fashion AI Can Change Retail Forever

July 2018

Fashion AI, cool or creepy?

Would you let a robot style you? Well, it looks like artificial intelligence (AI) can handle it.
Amazon’s AI can give you fashion advice at home. But fashion tech is advancing to more than playing fashion police.

Businesses like to make their customers’ lives easier so long as it benefits the bottom line. Consequently, making tech streamline our existing routines and having tech tell us how to dress is being pushed in the fashion industry.

Counterfeit Kingpin Pivots to Fashion Tech. Can a company with a reputation of peddling counterfeits become a fashion industry leader? Alibaba can't rewrite its history but fashion AI might become it's legacy. APreponderanceOfFashion.com

Smart mirrors already tell you when your life choices are affecting your skin. But what if a mirror could help you shop from a range of stores without you having to open a bunch of computer tabs and guess whether cuts work well together?

Alibaba wants to create a mall that houses its affiliated brands so that you can cross-shop and style yourself from one fitting room.

Guess and Alibaba are testing this fashion AI concept at Hong Kong Polytechnic University from July 5th to July 7th.

The concept store features smart racks, smart mirrors, and next-generation fashion tech fitting rooms.

How Alibaba’s Fashion AI works

Alibaba’s current proprietary AI system is based on its current consumer insights and images of more than 500,000 outfits put together by Taobao stylists and fashion experts from its Tmall partner brands.

The idea is that you’ll create an account with the AI and could access it at participating stores. The profile account could store personal details like a history of items purchased.

The hope is that the AI will help customers make up their minds and take the guess work out of styling choices.

In the fitting room you could access your profile so that the AI could style items using your wardrobe pieces. Regardless of whether you have a personal profile, Alibaba’s AI would also suggest items available for purchase at participating stores. These AI suggestions are made by analyzing what other people have paired with items you’re considering. This type of AI could eventually gather an approximation of your tastes as each of your decisions further refine the AI’s algorithm.

These AI enabled fitting rooms work like the smart ads on your computer. Click To Tweet

I imagine this AI help could lead to less returns; however, for this type of AI to stick, stores will need to heighten the customer experience beyond what could be completed easier virtually. Like how high end boutiques offer snacks and beverages. The act feels thoughtful and can lead to free marketing via a social media share or word of mouth. ‘Gifting’ something also makes that customer feel like they owe you something so they become more likely to make a purchase.

Fashion AI concept store

At the pilot store, when customers take an item off the rack, an RFID-enabled tag on the sample connects with the mirror to display the item. The AI can then recommend other products.

The shopper can then choose the size and color desired and store personnel will fetch the sample items. There is only one sample of each item on the rack, which stays in place for the next shopper to browse.

“GUESS and Alibaba share the same vision to understand customer behaviors through technologies,” and “marry technology with fashion in a way that’s never been done before,”

said Zhuoran Zhuang, Vice President, Alibaba Group.

Stocking inventory this way could potentially help protect against shoplifting since inventory could be more easily tracked.

Alibaba is diversifying its fashion tech developments.

Alibaba has new AI that works similar to how Siri uses predictive text to guess the next word in your text message.

Alibaba’s digital marketing arm, Alimama, developed a new AI copywriter. This tool produces up to 20,000 lines of copy per second and has passed the Turing test. Passing the Turing test means that the AI is indistinguishable from a human through natural language conversations. Few machines have managed to successfully pass the test.

This AI is already being used nearly one million times daily on Alibaba-owned sites such as Tmall, Mei.com, 1688.com, and Taobao. The tone can be altered between promotional, functional, fun, poetic or heartwarming.

So, AI can’t yet displace fashion lawyers, but this fashion tech is already writing copy for brands like Esprit and Dickies. Even though Alibaba is known for peddling counterfeits it might successfully pivot into being a fashion tech leader.

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