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Retailers Spot Trends Through Virtual Mannequins

Retailers Spot Trends Through Virtual Mannequins
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Fashion retailers are using the 'build yourself an outfit' apps found on their websites and applications to understand changing trends.

Piers Fawkes, PSFK
  • 4 january 2010

Fashion retailers are using the ‘build yourself an outfit’ apps found on their websites and applications to understand changing trends. Not only do these applications allow consumers to mix and match apparel to find combination that are right for their next night out (or day in work) but they are also sending information to the retailers to help them track changing needs. The New York Times reports on the use of this data-led technology by teenage fashion store Wet Seal:

Last year, Wet Seal introduced a Web feature called Outfitter, which allows users to put together their own outfits online.

The virtual outfits are posted, and users can browse through them, comment and exchange recommendations. So far, more than 300,000 user-generated outfits have been designed, generating millions of page views.

“We can get a read on where our customer is headed faster than ever before,” Mr. Thomas said. The user designs, he said, helped the company see early signs of a recent trend toward more informal outfits — dressy tops, but casual bottoms, usually jeans.

In October, Wet Seal created its own iPhone application, called iRunway. With it, a customer in a store can tap in an item’s ticket number — bar code recognition comes later this year — and see how it has been used in outfits that other customers have created online.

The user-generated product selections and recommendations, combined with mobile phone access, build a community of customers that should increase sales, Mr. Thomas predicts. “We’re at the very initial stages, but that will be the wave of the future in fashion retailing,” he said.

NY Times: A Data Explosion Remakes Retailing

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