Stitch Fix: Styling with Algorithms?
Updated: Oct 1, 2019
I am in the midst of preparing a seminar that will include trends in the apparel industry. I decided to check out Stitch Fix as they advertise having stylists who select outfits for their customers. Their ads show up on my FB feed and I have one client who tried them but got tired of continually getting boxes of clothing they didn’t want. So, I went to their website which I found lacking in information which seemed to be done on purpose. Their tagline was “Personal Styling for Everybody” and it went on to say “A great wardrobe starts with your perfect fit. Our Stylists discover clothing for you, hand-selected for your unique size & style.” However, in going through their website, I couldn’t figure out how they delivered on their brand promise.
First, how do they get a perfect fit? Yes, this is what stylists do but I didn’t see anyway an unknown Stitch Fix stylist could accomplish this. They seem to use a guide but getting a perfect fit means knowing both a client’s fit points and how a brand is sized and whether it works with her fit points. Also, how do these stylists” hand-select clothing for your unique size and style?” I know how a traditional stylist does this, but it involves working with the client, understanding what her goals are for her wardrobe and what type of clothing she is looking for. More importantly, a good stylist works with a client to help them stop making poor clothing choices such as picking pieces that don’t fit right (for example jackets that are too short, skirt styles that add weight or the wrong style pants).
Stitch Fix also mentions using an algorithm, but I could not find an explanation as to how this helps with the fit and selection. To learn more about a company I tend to check the “help wanted” section. I couldn’t believe how many algorithm programmers they were looking for. After talking to some technical people, they said Stitch Fix was probably using an algorithm to select the clothes. This may explain why customers can only talk to the stylist by sending them a note. A lot of AI is being used in apparel and is expected to show customers how clothing looks on them before they choose to buy but this is not the same as using a stylist. Stylists help you create a workable and wearable wardrobe not to encourage you to buy the latest fad.
What I found really interesting is there were very few openings for stylists and they certainly weren’t looking for people who had a lot of experience in this area. These people seemed more like customer service reps. I left feeling something was very phony.
I would love to hear from some satisfied Stitch Fix customers out there to help me understand the benefit of this product.