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Asking algorithms for fashion advice: The rise of styling apps

Clothes are not just products that consumers purchase to fulfil a need, they are also emotional pieces that customers can project their emotions and feelings onto. Customers will admire the style of others and seek to emulate this in their own wardrobe. So, what happens when technology and ecommerce enter this emotional space?

Several brands are racing to shape the future of personalisation in fashion ecommerce. Instagram acts like a shop window by showing you personalised items on your explore page based on the brands that you interact with. Pinterest has shoppable pins and recommendations similar to a personal stylist. All of these different tools are looking to influence the way that we shop in 2020 by creating personalised experiences based on our style preferences. 

Creating a personalised experience

One of the main benefits of online shopping is the ability to create a quick, personalised and convenient experience for customers, and increasingly brands are doing so with the help of AI stylists. Common problems that many shoppers face include a lack of time for shopping, finding items that match their existing wardrobe, and selecting items which match their unique personal style. However, stylist apps are looking to resolve this problem and give customers the tools to curate their own wardrobes with interchangeable pieces that work with their existing style.

AI styling also gives customers who may have previously been unable to afford a stylist on a level playing field to those with a higher income to spend on fashion. What was previously a privilege reserved for higher income professionals can now be accessed by anyone with visits a website or brand which has this technology in place. These AI stylists are offering the same service without the same barrier-to-entry to create a fun and individual experience for the consumer.

Personal styling for modern consumers

Thread, a small menswear mail-order personal styling service, combines data and AI learning with expert stylists to help men find the perfect outfit for any occasion. In a world where consumers are increasingly overwhelmed by choice, Thread is revolutionising the way consumers purchase clothing by applying algorithms to customers style choices.

Thread works by asking consumers using their service a series of questions to decipher what their unique style is, this will include topics such as what they would wear to work compared to casual social events and special occasions. It then asks them a price range for each type of clothing. They will also ask users questions pertaining to their unique body types such as waist size, broad shoulders, longer arms/legs in order to get the most accurate measurement and understanding of their unique needs. Using AI learning and stylists, men can choose from a range of outfits and products all of which are delivered to their home address.

“AI can instantly look through millions of options, remember your preferences and learn from your behaviour,” explains Kieran O’Neill, Thread co-founder and chief executive. “But our focus has always been on developing AI that can scale and improve the expertise of a [human] stylist, not replace it.”

Are you thinking of introducing AI styling technology to your website?

Read more of our predictions for this year by downloading our free innovations ebook:

Chris Thomas


Chris Thomas

CEO & Founder

Chris has been at the forefront of eCommerce and a pioneer of online retailing since the early 00s. A 5-time Drapers Award winner, Chris has extensive experience in developing fashion brands online.

Chris founded Cake in 2016. Based in Birmingham, with offices nationwide, Cake specialises in helping fashion brands understand their market online and then helps to develop appropriate strategical direction to achieve their plan, all backed by his 20 years of operating in the retail market.