Interview: Perry Ellis Shoppers Can Ask Alexa What To Wear
In an interview with PSFK, Marketing Manager Ally Lee explains why Perry Ellis created a voice-activated skill that provides men with curated, real-time advice that integrates seamlessly with their daily routine, and that, in turn, is helping inform the apparel brand's online and offline store experience
As male consumers' expenditure on fashion and apparel continues to grow, brands are moving to accommodate this captive audience, focusing their efforts on everything from curating high-end French subscription boxes just for men to designing an Alexa skill to provide men with style tips and ideas as they prepare for their day. Perry Ellis, iconic menswear brand, is pioneering this latter opportunity, enabling a first-of-its kind personal style assistant via Amazon's Alexa to supply men with on-demand sartorial aid for any occasion.
Ask Perry Ellis aims to simplify men's routines, letting them ask, “Alexa, what should I wear to the wedding?”, in response to which they will receive personalized recommendations as well as the option to order directly from perryellis.com. PSFK spoke to Ally Lee, Marketing Manager at Perry Ellis, to find out more behind the skill's creation, as well as what the brand hopes to achieve with this new extension, at once functioning as an engagement-driving brand activation while concurrently providing consumers with continued support in the post-purchase phase.
PSFK: Ask Perry Ellis is the first voice-activated personal stylist for men, powered by Alexa. While it’s often used for events like weddings, first dates or interviews, how can this tool also be useful for on a daily basis?
Ally Lee: We find that men use the skill most for major events in their life. However, we've also had fun with it and enabled consumers to ask Alexa questions like “What do you wear to a bar?” We offer other looks, as well. It's not just, “Here's another suit,” but, “Here's also other suggestions,” which leads traffic to our site.
The skill really does help the consumers in their day‑to‑day life. I have Alexa. I am always asking her, “What is the weather?” Now, my boyfriend is curious and asks, “What should I wear to this?”
How do you think that Perry Ellis's Alexa tool enables men to feel more in control of their styling choices? Does it help male consumers stay on-trend?
It’s a capability that gives consumers more confidence in what they can wear as well as further push their style boundaries. Guys are becoming more fashion-oriented in what they wear and how they present themselves, but they also want styles that are really easy—that can go from day to night, that they can wear on a date night after work or that can transition from the gym to the bar with their friends.
If the guy knows what he wants already, this skill gives him more options. It knows how he dresses, and how he goes about his day, so it offers him tailored suggestions that can expand upon what he likes.
For special occasions, women have rental services like Rent the Runway to outsource the process of getting ready. Do you think the process is different for men, considering their special occasion and daily dressing habits? How does the Alexa skill facilitate their process in particular?
That's a great question. I think it all comes down to the sociology of ‘men versus women'. Women have fashion magazines, advertisers, beauty—that are already integrated into their lives. They more likely already know what they want, how to dress and know the prices.
With men, the past couple of years has seen their streetwear offerings explode. Guys are really becoming more interested in what fashion has to offer. With the Alexa skill, we've been able to capitalize on that interest and give suggestions to help those interested in composing looks.
How do you think services like Trunk Club will work in tandem with it? How do you think it would also work to help men style what's already in front of them?
With Trunk Club, there's always opportunities to further explore, but with Alexa, it's right in your home. It's right there, and it's immediate. You just ask and she's there. It's connected to your phone.
With Trunk Club, you go talk to someone and receive that customer service, but with Alexa, especially in the digital age, the advice is immediate. You get an answer on your phone, or in an email. Guys love their tech tools. Trunk Club is very personable and custom-oriented. Alexa is personal as well, but is also digital and on-demand.
How has men using Perry Ellis' Alexa skill changed your brand dynamic, such as attracting a younger demographic to your brand? Moreover, has it better familiarized people with Alexa technology?
When we first started out, we just launched a bunch of looks. As time has gone on, we've seen the data come in and how guys are reacting to it, and built upon that.
One way we have improved the skill is having it refresh seasonally, so we can curate looks matched to the season. For summer, we had a lot of beach and wedding looks. Then, when we go into the holidays, we’ll focus on enabling questions like “What do you wear to a Christmas party? What about the office Christmas party?”
We also like to keep it fresh and relevant for today’s consumers. We want to keep it useful and conversational, like asking your guy friends or your girlfriend what to wear. We’ve come up with looks for a Skype interview. We've included back-to-school looks, too, trying to tap different user demographics.
Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
It's been a really great eye‑opening skill. It’s meant to be helpful and integrated into users' lives. We're not telling guys what to wear or giving them a new style—we're just helping them curate their own looks that are right for their lifestyle.
In return, we really get a good read on our customer, which helps provide us with insightful data.
Does that information help inform the types of clothes that you create for each season and what you put on the site?
Definitely. It helps us with our site direction and in our retail stores, too. We apply that data to every part of our outlet to better cater to what consumers want and personalize our offers to them.
Is there anything you can share about what’s next for Perry Ellis and Alexa?
We're going to continue working on the refreshes and generating more data. It's definitely been a fun experience—seeing how guys respond to it, and seeing the growing numbers from it as well.
Creating an Alexa capability to bring its brand into its consumers' everyday lives is just one way that retailers like Perry Ellis are enabling fun and engaging experiences that encourage consumer loyalty and drive sales. For more examples, see PSFK's report the Content & Commerce Debrief.