In the age of digital, machine-learning technology has evolved and is now able to help provide a similar personalized experience to what people once experienced only by visiting a tailor or seamstress in person. Historically, the work of helping somebody find an item that would suit their personal style, fit, and size was done by a bespoke expert over days, weeks, or months. Now in a ready-to-wear world of infinite styles, fits, and size systems, the work finding the perfect items just for you happens in an instant as deep learning AI, and machine-learning algorithms can navigate and synthesize billions of data points in a few milliseconds, and accurately recommend products that are true to style, fit, and size to millions of customers without a measuring tape.
While seamstresses and tailors accurately provided customers with personalized style and fit options on a one-to-one basis, machine learning can do well in replicating the experience, instantly and broadly. True Fit’s Regional Vice President of Northern Europe, Wim Van Horen, knows this story well.
As a thought leader in the fashion tech market and representative of True Fit’s data-driven personalization platform, he understands the value behind this approach - the value both for retailers and consumers alike. However, Wim also shares his appreciation for the traditional style and fit personalization “methods”— his grandfather was a tailor and his grandmother taught in a trade school to students working to become seamstresses.
He said, “While my grandfather's customer base was very limited, fashion brands and retailers now have to personalize for potentially millions of shoppers. Without massive support from data and machine learning, scaling is not possible."
History of the Trade
Wim recalls his grandfather, a tailor in Belgium beginning in the 1930’s, sewing men’s outfits for specific clients, with up to ten different clients at any given time. His customers were given the luxury of perfectly-fitting clothes that matched their style preferences, and in turn he developed true one-to-one relationships with his customers.
Wim’s grandmother taught students at a local trade school the necessary skills to master alterations. She also taught them to combine their sewing skills with customer service skills, so they could perfect the specific requests of each customer.
Tailors, like Wim’s grandfather, often produced capsule collections, releasing a few pieces every year. Today, fast-fashion companies can produce a new collection as quickly as each week. Customers are now exposed to millions of different products and often purchase clothes in great quantities, which increases the need to provide accurate style and product recommendations to customers.
Since the dawn of the internet, there has been a drift in the connection between brands and their customers as many try to emulate the in-store experience online. Many retailers are working to shift to data-driven personalization engines that ensure the customer feels prioritized like he or she would in with a tailor or seamstress.
Original Fashion line sketches by Wim's Grandfather
While the retail industry has shifted dramatically over the last century, the same two core values remain between the tailors, seamstresses and fashion-driven artificial intelligence:
+ Help customers feel confident by giving them clothes that fit well and flatter their bodies
+ Support customers in expressing themselves through their individual styles
+ Ultimately, help customers love and keep their clothing
Providing customers with a truly individualized experience is essential in boosting conversion rates, reducing unnecessary returns, and more importantly, delighting customers. With the development of data-driven personalization solutions, customers are able to receive highly relevant personal style curation, accurate size recommendations, and even fit details that simulate how an item is expected to fit a specific shopper; very similar to personal consultation and advice once provided by a single tailor or seamstress. While the methods have changed, the values, intentions, to help people find clothes and shoes they’ll love and keep remains the same.
This post was written in collaboration with True Fit’s Regional Vice President of Northern Europe, Wim Van Horen. Don't miss Wim's upcoming speaking session at D-Congress in Gothenburg, Sweden from 15:30 to 15:50 (3:30 to 3:50 PM)