Stitch Fix: A Subscription or a Prescription?

I’m an avid subscriber. I love trying new beauty products so I have a Beautypie subscription, I love drama series so I have a Netflix subscription. I am impatient so I have an Amazon Prime account and I like to make small environmentally-driven changes where I can so I have a Smol subscription (laundry tabs FYI!).

I also LOVE fashion and I am responsible for a disproportionate volume of deliveries to the TVE offices. So shouldn’t it follow that I’d also love the thought of a personal stylist without the associated fee?

Well actually no. I hate the thought that a faceless algorithm might decide what I wear in future. However, that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s an amazing business for a myriad reasons.

I’ve been keeping my eye on Stitch Fix since my Colorado-based friend showed me one of her most recent deliveries or ‘fixes’ as the brand likes to call them, when I was visiting at new year. Given its recent $2billion valuation, my friend is certainly not alone in turning to tech for her fashion.

There is a lot to admire about this US tech giant that launched in the UK in May, not least because it appears to be very open about the fact that it is collecting personal data…lots of data. It is one of few tech companies that seems to understand the value exchange that consumers expect in return for volunteering their personal data. In this case, Stitch Fix customers freely give their preferences, they feed back on sizing and even complete tinder-style ‘games’ to rate future designs. In return they get a personalised selection of items that they are likely to want as well as items that are likely to fit.

They also get their unmet needs identified and well… met! Forbes describes how Stitch Fix uses the data from groups of similar individuals to look at where there might be room for either a hybrid item (e.g. if boat-necked and bell-sleeved items are separately selling well then wouldn’t a boat-necked, bell-sleeved sell well also?). The data also allows for better inventory management and fewer availability issues. If a brand’s largest size is too small for one person, then they flag that on their file, if it’s too small for 9000 people then there’s an opportunity for a similar style with more inclusive sizing.

So all in all, it sounds dreamy, for both consumer and brand.

But that doesn’t stop me feeling sad at the thought of formulas deciding what’s fashionable. Identity is an important factor in the world of fashion; can our identities really be that easily predicted and prescribed?

It’s one subscription too far for me.

By: Fleur Horner

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