Would You Wear Computer-Designed Clothes?

According to a recent story at Quartz, Stitch Fix — an online subscription retailer that’s actually thriving — has been producing algorithm-designed clothing for about a year now, and it’s selling, well.

For those unfamiliar with the company, Stitch Fix has “reportedly broken $500 million in revenue” and now owns 3 percent “of online apparel sales among millennials” — a larger share than Asos currently holds. But it’s their in-house brand, Hybrid Designs, that’s proving to be the biggest disrupter. The group “employs a data science team that works with the company’s order data to predict which clothes customers will want to wear.”

“Now when something is ostensibly missing from the market, we fill it in with our own algorithmically generated designs,” Stitch Fix chief algorithm officer Eric Colson told Quartz.

The “design process” combines three separate algorithms to comb through 30 trillion potential variations on a single garment, ultimately culling that data down to nine design suggestions.

The “ideas” are then reviewed by actual people, who turn it into something “someone would want to wear.” And those designs are performing, the story notes. “Stitch Fix says some of [the roughly 25 designs] have performed in the 99th percentile for the site’s entire inventory.”

So not only is automation threatening the employment of apparel makers, it’s now giving apparel designers a run for their money, too. What a time to be alive.

You can read more about it at Quartz.

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