AI Designed Clothing Is Customized To Each Customer
Online apparel seller Stitch Fix takes a user's clothing preferences to determine the best outfits to send them in the mail
Fashion design doesn’t always have to involve an artist’s spontaneous inspiration. Instead, it can involve ones and zeroes to determine the most likely look a person would appreciate based off of current trends and styles. That’s what Stitch Fix does. The San Francisco based company has users sign up for an online subscription to then receive clothing based off of preferences they checked off in a survey. Some of these pieces of clothing were designed by an artificial intelligence program.
Stitch Fix was founded by Katrina Lake in 2011 while she was attending Harvard Business School. During Lake’s time at school, she was exploring the idea of blending the human element for choosing style with the use of algorithms. This brought her to start sending the first Stitch Fix packages from her apartment that later expanded into the company she’s running today.
When a user wants to sign up to receive a Stitch Fix outfit, they have to go through a survey of preferences the company uses to learn more about them. The first set of questions focus on a user’s physical attributes, such as how tall they are, weight, and build. From there, the user describes the best fit for their clothing, like if they want a more relaxed pair of pants, or a pair that fits them tightly. The last, and the largest, section has users describing the style and clothing colors they’d like to wear.
Users who sign up to receive a Stitch Fix package do take a small gamble with what they get. A user will receive five clothing items in the package and can choose to keep as many of the items they like. If they only want one, they can send the other four articles of clothing back at no extra cost to them. The same goes if they want to keep four and send back only one. A user only pays for what they keep.
The core of Stitch Fix revolves around customer feedback. The more information the company has about a particular user, the better package they can send them. The program assists designers in making initial decisions about a user’s design, however, the stylists of the website make the final choices.
One of the new endeavors Stitch Fix has begun to experiment with has an artificial intelligence creating unique pieces of clothing. The computer runs through millions of choices for a user, creating an ideal option by taking optimal features from popular choices. The program could, for instance, like the pattern from one top, the color of another, and the lace of a third and combine it into a single top. While the computer’s programming can shift through millions of possibilities to create a one-of-a-kind hybrid shirt, the new style may only look good on its own and not with other pieces of clothing. The designers then step in to modify the clothing to fit an entire outfit based on a user’s choices.
The designers at Stitch Fix plan to expand the hybrid clothing their artificial intelligence makes in the future, however, the hybrid clothing only makes up 1% of products sold on the website.