AI beats fashion stylists at London Fashion Week

In February this year and after training and testing our A.I. Stylist for 2 years we decided we were ready for London Fashion Week. We previously spent a lot of time testing with various stylists we worked with, as well as by withholding parts of the dataset from the model and measuring user behaviour in our app. We were iching though to take it to the ultimate fashion event of the year and see the reactions of random members of the public. Our goal was not to run a scientific experiment. This happens daily in our lab, where we test with thousands of outfits (blog post on that coming soon). Our goal was to interact with real people, hear their feedback, see their reactions and most importantly satisfy our curiosity. Would fashion lovers from all over the world be able to tell the difference?

 

So we decided to design an experiment. We generated 10 sets of outfits. In each set, we added two outfits of similar style. One generated by our A.I. stylist and the other collected by instagram influencers. The question we asked participants, was “Which outfit was created by an influencer?”. Here is an example.

 

We used SurveyMonkey to run the survey. Our sample consisted of 27 participants, 82% of which were female. Each correct guess got 1 point. Participants scored on average of 46%. For reference, if they were randomly responding to the questions they would have scored 50%. The highest score by a participant was 80% and the lowest 10%.

 

Often participants asked what were the criteria to make the decision and our answer was “Choose the one you like best”. 70% of them prefered the outfits created by our A.I.

 

So how do we do this? We examine thousands of outfits put together by stylists, influencers, designers and retailers. Using deep learning, we extract the essence of style. We go a lot further than your typical computer vision techniques that focus on pattern recognition. Using machine learning to find visually similar clothes is commonplace these days. However, style is a lot more nuanced than finding similar patterns or colours. Two seemingly different patterns or fabrics can really sometimes be combined together to build a beautiful outfit. And two pieces of clothing that would normally clash, can be brought together in a beautiful outfit with the use of the right accessories. Using the latest in deep learning, we have just started decoding the genome of style. A.I. is only at the beginning of it’s journey but it’s making huge leaps every day.

 

Why is the important? Well, it is a huge step for diversity in the fashion retail industry. While body positivity is a huge movement, most retailers still build their lookbooks through studio photoshoots with models. This means that looks offered to customers on retail websites, cater to one body type, skin tone, hair tone and eye colour. Offering styling advice to each customer is expensive for a retailer. And what about different occasions, weather and style preferences?

 

A.I. offers the potential to scale fashion styling advice, creating outfits personal to the needs of each customer, celebrating diversity and individuality. Companies such as Stitchfix have already demonstrated the power of that approach. We want to take this further, allowing customers to digitise their wardrobe, style their own clothes and receive a personal service across their favourite retailers.

 

Interested in learning more? Get In Touch!

 

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Nobal iMirror

Omnichannel Retail: Competing in new and innovative ways

As technology blurs the distinctions between physical and online retail, retailers will need to rethink their competitive strategies. We chat with Thomas Battle at Nobal who are enabling retailers to bridge the gap between offline and online through their iMirror technology.

Talk to us about your latest venture and what excites you about it.

Right now retail is undergoing a revolution where the definition of shopping is being re-defined. Is the future of retail entirely digital? Does brick-and-mortar still excite shoppers enough to bring them into stores? Will a combination of e-commerce and physical sales drive customers to purchase more?

We believe that the future of retail is experiential shopping that combines the best features of e-commerce with the best of a brick-and-mortar store. Customers will come to a store to partake in an experience and just happen to buy a fully customized product which will be sent to their home via drone.

Experiences will range from workouts to educational workshops to community meetups during which customers will be surrounded by a tailored brand, community and set of products that shoppers will engage with on an emotional level. Shoppers will build outfits that match their personalities and then have it delivered directly to their homes.

We’ve built the iMirror, the world’s most advanced interactive mirror, to be the digital interface that facilitates the experiences delivered by these stores. The iMirror brings every mirror in the store to life and allows brands to engage their customers with an intuitive digital experience. Our flagship experience, the digital fitting room, is already allowing customers to get product recommendations, order out of stock inventory, and communicate with sales associates in real time anywhere in the store.

Re-imagining and re-inventing an industry with major retail thought leaders, and building products that change the way we interact with the physical and the digital worlds is incredibly exciting.

Nobal’s iMirror bring online commerce into the physical store.

What do you see as the biggest challenges in retail these days?

The biggest challenge in retail is creating those unique in-store experiences. A production that draws in people not just to shop, but to learn, interact and enjoy.  Right now every store needs to look at themselves and ask “Is coming into my store a fun or amazing enough experience that I overcome the convenience of buying products online?” Creating these experiences is hard and the companies exploring this space are exploring a new frontier of opportunities. That being said, for the first companies to discover how to do this right, there is a lot of long-term upsides.

 

What are the most important trends that you see and how do you see retail changing in the next 5 years?

Combining physical and digital sales channels into truly omnichannel experiences is probably the most important trend currently in retail. Most companies have siloed their online and brick-and-mortar experiences and they don’t talk to each other. Each sales channel has their own value and issues, by combining the best features of both, you create an environment in which your customers have a much better experience in your stores.

Immersive in-store experiences created with the iMirror

 

What makes a great omnichannel experience? Are there any companies that you think are nailing it in this space?

Great omnichannel strategies are ones that seamlessly integrate the technology into the environment around you. Technologies like tablets are at a huge disadvantage because they take you out of the shopping experience. Companies like Perch are doing a great job of this seamless omnichannel integration in places like Sephora, (and us of course!).

Nike and Perch Omni-channel Retailing Experience

Perch in collaboration with Nike – reimagining the retail store experience based on merging the Physical + Digital.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as a business leader?

Task prioritization is one of the hardest things in the world to do and (at the same time) one of the most valuable things to get right. For me, I work through living To Do lists that keep me on track at a macro and micro level throughout the day.

What is the one book that you recommend our audience should read and why?

The Up Side of Down is one of my favourite books. As a startup, it is key to celebrate and embrace failure. Failure is how we learn and grow as human beings. Once we start fearing failure, we become stagnant and cease to grow.

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to business leaders looking to incorporate innovation into their strategy? What’s the best way to make that happen?

Right now, no one knows what the store of the future is going to look like. In 15 years, it is going to seem like the most obvious thing in the world as to what experiences become omnipresent in retail. The market is ultimately going to decide what works and what does not. Companies that take risks, test and iterate on as many innovations as possible will be in a much better position to take advantage of the huge upside that comes from being the first to market with a new breed of the shopping experience. The only other option is to risk going the way of Sears and Toys R Us.

 

How Retailers Can Leverage Innovation and A.I.

Innovation is an essential component to success in retail today and into the future. 

Kostas Koukoravas speaks to Validify‘s CEO, Fergal O’Mullane, about the biggest innovations in fashion retail and how retailers can leverage technology to stay ahead of the curve.

 

Talk to us about your latest venture and how did you come up with the idea.

Validify helps leading retailers access curated and vetted information on the latest emerging retail technology from around the world. I have been working in the retail tech space in London for the last 15 years, consumer shopping behaviour has transformed in this time on the back of transformative innovation, in particular, the use of smartphones and social media. The number of tech companies launching new solutions has also increased exponentially and retailers are finding it increasingly difficult to identify the right technology for them.

We founded Validify to help retailers to discover groundbreaking innovation and to help streamline the selection and adoption process.

 

What are the most interesting applications of A.I. in the retail industry?

It’s very early days for AI in retail. Artificial intelligence is an overused term and encompasses a number of areas from machine learning to deep learning all the way through to image recognition and natural learning processing (NPL) that underpins voice technology. At present, the application of AI in the retail industry is limited or in ‘pilot’ phase. Despite current limitations, there are interesting applications of AI in the areas of personalisation, stock inventory, search and customer service (chatbots).

Personalisation

Retailers turning to machine learning and predictive analytics to serve up personalised content and product recommendations to their customers. Whilst conceptually not new (Amazon has led the way in this for years), the detailed level of customer and product attributes that can now be assessed in real-time significantly improves personal experience.

 

 

Inventory Management

AI is used to automatically analyse swathes of data to predict demand, forecast inventory and replenish in real time. Can reduce stocks, excess build-ups and the need for markdowns. It also enables retailers to stock the store with different products depending on demographics.

 

Image analysis

Prevalent in the beauty industry, facial recognition technology being used to provide customers with personalised recommendations based on skin types. Image analysis also being used in-store to analyse customer footprint and sentiments in relation to the environment and product.

 

Panasonic showcases its new Future Mirror at CEATEC 2016

Chatbots

Though still in relatively early stages, NLP being used to enable these ‘bots’ to interpret human language and sentiment in order to respond in ‘human-like’, conversational manner. Similar to the technology being used in Amazon Alexa and Google Home etc.

 

Can you give us some examples of the most innovative companies in retail? What makes them stand out?

There are some great examples of innovation coming from both mature retailers and the newest online players.

H&M is a great example of a company that used to lag behind. However, in recent years has deployed innovative technology across the business including investing in automated warehousing, employing AI driven inventory management technology to its recent development of voice-activated mirrors in its flagship store in New York. Ikea is another great example of a company embracing innovation as a core pillar of their business. They continue to invest in new technologies such as AR and VR whilst partnering with Apple and Amazon to further their technology ambitions. They were one of the first to use AR in a practical application enabling customers to visualize product in their homes without ever going near a store.

 

 

On the other side of the spectrum, new retail incumbent Stichfix is innovating with fashion design, using AI to create and design garments reactively to consumer opinions/ buying habits.

What makes these companies stand out is their understanding that innovation and technology is core to the future of their business, not an afterthought. In particular, these companies are willing to experiment with new technologies ahead of their competitors via trial and error. The acceptance that failure is part of the innovating process and the ability to move on quickly will enable these retailers to potentially stay ahead of the curve.

What are the biggest barriers to adopting innovation for mature companies?

Mature companies are often burdened by legacy technology, processes that prohibit technology adoption and a culture that doesn’t foster innovation. Mature businesses working off legacy technology lack the agility to adapt to the pace of change we are currently seeing in the retail space. This is conflated by the elongated internal processes and decision-making often found in larger, more mature companies. The culture of ‘innovation’ has traditionally been harder to foster in more mature companies often seen as the responsibility of a single person/ team to manage. Without company-wide acceptance that innovation is necessary it acts as a barrier to adoption especially in the current climate where retailer budgets are under increasing pressure. Finally, many companies (not just mature) struggle to know ‘how’ to innovate, what technologies to employ and where to source them.

 

“…businesses need to take a more agile,  test and learn approach to innovation…don’t be afraid to fail, but fail fast…this is the approach taken by the most successful businesses in the world…”

What are some good ways to overcome them?

To overcome some of these challenges you often have to start to form the top – getting senior management to embrace innovate and make a commitment to invest in doing so. Also, businesses need to take a more agile,  test and learn approach to innovation…don’t be afraid to fail, but fail fast…this is the approach taken by the most successful businesses in the world…including the biggest retailer Amazon.

What do you think the impact of Brexit will be in London as an innovation hub?

Without having a crystal ball, it is difficult to predict the exact impact Brexit will have. There are concerns that incredible talent available in London will move out. The reality is that London already relies on talent and companies outside the UK to help support it as an innovation hub. At Validfy we continue to work every day with technology companies looking to settle in London and build out their teams. There are still huge investments being made into the UK in general and some of the biggest technology companies are still setting up in London.  The UK has over 5million start-ups and that continues to grow – made ever more apparent by the number of co-working spaces popping up in London to support the ecosystem. We do not believe that London will collapse as an innovation hub overnight but it may need to adapt.

What is the one piece of advice that you would give to business leaders looking to incorporate innovation into their strategy?

The first step should be ensuring you truly understand who your customer is, what value you deliver them and what can you do to deliver the best possible customer experience. Innovation is a powerful enabler, but the fundamentals of being a successful retailer haven’t changed, you need to deliver a great product and a great customer experience.

Retailers also need to take a more agile approach to innovation, they need encourage a test and learn the methodology to innovation…it’s ok if something doesn’t work, pilot it, if it works roll it out, if it fails throw it out, the important thing is to fail fast!

What body type are you?

How to find clothes that suit your body type with Intelistyle, The A.I. Personal Stylist

You’ve bought something online, it looked great on the model and now you’re at home trying it on thinking ‘Why doesn’t it look good on me?’

It’s a common dilemma when online shopping and something that can be avoided with just a few handy tips on how you can work out the best clothes for your body type.

In this article, we go over what body types there are, how you can figure out your body type and what styles work best for you to flaunt your figure.

How to figure out your body type

There are varying degrees to every body type, but the majority can be placed into the 5 most common body types regardless of weight or height. The main focus of these body types is your body proportions and balance, later using these guides to work out how to create a balanced overall look in an outfit.

Hourglass Body Type:
  • A defined but fuller bust
  • A defined waist
  • A rounded bottom
Apple Body Type:
  • Rounder shoulder line and a flattish bottom
  • Average to big busted
  • Fullness around the middle
  • Good Legs
Pear Body Type:
  • Full hips or thighs
  • A defined waist
  • Shoulders that are narrower than your hips
  • A small top half as well as a small bust.
Inverted Triangle Body Type:
  • Your bottom half is smaller than your top
  • Little definition between waist and hips
  • Flat hips and bottoms
  • Straight and squared shoulder line
Rectangle Body Type:
  • Straight shoulder line and ribcage
  • Straight hips and bottoms
  • Very little waist definition
  • Average tummy

Now that you’ve figured out what body type you are, find out how to dress for it!

How to dress for an Hourglass body type:

As an Hourglass shape, your bust and hips are well balanced, you have a defined waist and have gently rounded shoulders. You most likely have a rounded bottom. Your upper body is proportionate in length to your legs which are shapely.

Best for you:

Dresses that cinch at the waist will be your best fit. V-necks or plunge necklines and sweetheart necklines help you flaunt your upper body. To show off your waistline, go with a belt at your natural waistline or just below the belly button. A-line dresses or similar cuts take care of working on the lower part of the body and of course, body-hugging dresses are your thing, because, why not?

Try to Avoid:

Avoid too many frills on your clothes as they will add extra bulk to places where you don’t need it. Be careful when choosing casual clothes as they can make you look boxy.

How to dress for an Apple body type:

As an Apple shape, you have chest and waist measurements that are fairly close, but your hips are about six inches smaller than your chests. Your shoulders and hips are around the same size.

Best For You:

Find clothes that suit your body type by looking to a-line or empire cut blouses and dresses. Wear printed dresses or patterned jackets that add a layer to shift the focus. Monochrome looks, dark colors, full or 3/4th sleeves dresses and flowy tops will help. You could also wear flared bottoms; palazzos etc. to create a balance. Also, since your shoulders are broad and you might already have a bigger bustline, ensure you wear the right bra.

Try to Avoid:

Avoid figure-hugging dresses or tops with skinny jeans. Try and replace the waist belt with an upper waist belt to strike a balance.

How to dress for a Pear body type:

As a Pear shape, your hips are larger than your bust. You have a nicely defined waist, and elegant neck and proportionately slim arms and shoulders. Your hips are wider than your shoulders. They are also wider than your hips, making them the widest area of your body.

Best For You:

Find clothes that suit your body type by looking to wide legged pants, A-line skirts or dresses with patterned or ruffled tops that add definition to the upper body. Skinny jeans with loose tops help create an hourglass illusion and high waist jeans show off the smallest part of your waist. Crop tops, sweetheart, v-necks, scoop or boat necks will balance your bottom out.

Try to Avoid:

Avoid clothes that draw your eye to the hips, this includes low waisted trousers, drop-waist dresses, and jackets that hit at the hip.

How to dress for an Inverted Triangle body type:

As an Inverted Triangle, your shoulders are wider than your hips. They are the widest part of your body. Your bottom is rather flat. Whereas your bust is a variable part of the equation.

Best for you:

Since your hips are much narrower than your shoulders, pencil skirts or skinny jeans with any top will look great. V-neck lines work well and create an illusion of narrow shoulders, so this should be your go-to neckline.

What to Avoid:

Avoid heavy detailing like buttons or epaulets around your shoulders as well as puffy sleeves, these draw the eye outward and make you appear top-heavy. Horizontal stripes also have a similar effect, instead, go for vertical pinstripes.

How to dress for a Rectangle body type:

As a Rectangle shape, your shoulders, waistline, bust, and hips are around the same size.

Rectangles have well-proportioned bodies, lean limbs, straight waist and small chest make them look like athletes without even trying.

Best for you:

Choose A-line skirts with ruffled and layered tops. Dresses that add definition to your bottom and necklines that add weight to the upper body. Sleeveless, strapless and sweetheart lines are your thing. Blazers, long jackets and capes add the much-needed drama here.

What to avoid:

Avoid shapeless clothes. If you want to add curves then avoid straight dresses, but you can also opt for the waistless look! Keep the volume on either the top or the bottom. If you go for an oversized top shape, keep the bottom skinny or structured.

 

The more you know about your body shape, the better you can dress for your specific body type. Try experimenting yourself and see if these tips are useful to you, see how your confidence can improve just by making a few minor changes in your styling.

Did you find this useful? Let us help style you and your body type! Download the app, snap a photo of an item you are wanting to style and see recommendations from your existing wardrobe or new from retailers all personalized to your body type.

Do you have a styling question you need help with? Drop us an email and let us know.

Jamie x

 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our post on the latest trends for 2018.

I’ve been invited to a party with a ‘Smart Casual’ dress code – Now What?

We’ve all had this problem before, the host has graciously let us know that the dress code is ‘Smart Casual’ and your thinking… What does that mean? As one of the most common but most confusing dress codes, its vague nature makes it problematic when styling an outfit.

A term used broadly in recent years, smart casual isn’t your best cocktail dress or sequin shift, it’s your daytime wardrobe glammed up.

Before you start styling your outfit, you should always consider the following questions:

Do you know anyone else invited?

Think about the demographics going, talk to your friends or colleagues and get an idea of what they’re wearing.

Do you know the venue?

Have you been there before? Give it a quick google and check out the images.

Think about the type of event it is.

If it’s an after-work networking event held by corporate or a friend’s 30th at a cocktail bar in Shoreditch. Consider what smart casual would mean in these circumstances.

We’ve uncovered the best street style outfits to help you and your styling dilemma.

Tailored Trousers

The easiest item to style in this dress code – a pair of tailored pants can be kept simple and sophisticated with a soft silk blouse. If you go for a pattern keep to either, on the top or on the bottom. Smart casual attire is all about keeping it simple so avoid overdoing your look with patterns.

Skirts

Separates are best at allowing you to have room for a tailored piece and more casual piece. Go for knee or midi length skirts in either pencil or fuller shapes. Lace can be pretty when paired with a plain top and minimal accessories. If you’re considering a shorter skirt go for a long sleeve top with a higher modest neckline.

Jumpsuits

Jumpsuits are so versatile and perfect for this situation. Go for a cropped leg and pair of statement heels or a wide leg trouser with wide block heels. Whether you go for plain or patterned you’re fine either way!

Dresses

Keep it sophisticated – go for a plain dress and glam it up with accessories. When choosing a dress, consider if it could be worn in a different dress code. If it’s more suitable as a cocktail dress, leave it for another evening. Separates shine in this dress code so consider reevaluating your styling choice.

Jackets and Blazers

A tailored blazer is the best option for this scenario, if you want to feel more modern, go for a longline blazer or a cropped length to accentuate your waist. Focus on a colored or patterned blazer if the event is during the day as a black or navy blazer can sometimes feel heavy.

Shoes

What makes a smart casual shoe? Colour: Black is the smartest, bright colors or patterns are more casual. Silhouette: A thin heeled sleek stiletto is the smartest. A pointed toe is smarter than a rounded one.  A classic court heel with a thinner heel compared to a block heel and then followed by fashion and statement sandal heels. Textures: Patent leather and matte suedes are smart, followed by smooth leathers. Fabrics can be arranged from luxury satins and woven damask down to cotton patterns such as gingham or polka dots.

Go for a smarter shoe like a leather pump or court heel. A block heel is a great option for when stilettos are not appropriate (no sinking into grass thank you!).  If stilettos are appropriate, go for a shorter heel to avoid being over dresses and if you are going for flats look to brogues.

Can I wear Jeans?

Tread carefully when choosing denim and think of the location and demographics of people invited. A tailored trouser is a much safer option if you are unsure. If you do opt for denim, try sticking to a pair of dark or black jeans, making sure they’re clean and without fading or distressing. To keep the look smart, pair your jeans with a smart blazer and a fine knit or smart blouse. Accessorize with closed toe heels in black, nude or a statement color.

Can I wear a t-shirt?

As a standard guide, t-shirts would be excluded from the dress code, however, it’s all down to styling. If you are confident in your choice and you want to pair it with a leather skirt or tucked into smart trousers then yes! Go for it! To stay safe opt for a floaty blouse or a light textured shirt instead.

Can I wear trainers?

In simplest terms no, keep these for your casual weekends!

I’m heading to this event straight after work – what can I do to change my outfit?

One of the easiest ways is to add a pair of heels and statement earrings. If you’re going with the same colleagues and you want to feel different, change your hairstyle to an updo.

If you’re already wearing tailored trousers or a skirt, you can change your blouse to a smarter option.

Things to avoid:

Distressed items, stained or dirty items – keep these for your casual weekends!

Too much glitz – you may be thinking about dressing for the night ahead but keep your heavily beaded or sequined dresses at home.

Strong silhouettes such as overly padded blazers or heavily structured dresses – these appear too heavy and formal. Smart casual is all about soft layers and luxe separates.

Now it’s your turn!

When in doubt go for simple with accessories, if you feel overdressed at the event, it can be as simple as taking off your earrings.

The perfect smart casual outfit is different for everyone, and luckily for us, women can get away with breaking a lot more of the style rules than in men’s fashion.

Stay tuned for next week where we discuss what men can wear to smart casual events! The appropriate time for a bomber jacket, pocket squares, and the difference between polo shirts and dress shirts!

Let us help style you for your next occasion! Download the app, snap a photo of an item you are wanting to style and see recommendations from your existing wardrobe or new from retailers.

Do you have a styling question you need help with? Drop us an email and let us know.

Jamie x

 

Looking for more inspiration? Check out our post on the latest trends for 2018.

Bitnami