Indian artificial intelligence start-ups are disrupting the fashion industry by helping brands identify trends on how consumers buy clothes.
Brands are crunching time to bring new designs to market using the underlying technology that help predict consumer trends, while increasing sales of their new selections. Typically, brands freeze new designs nine months to one year in advance of the respective seasons.
“More than half of the branded clothes by big retailers are sold in discounts. Brands think they know their customers, yet they have not been able to clearly identify what their choice is,” says Ganesh Subramanian, founder and chief executive officer of Stylumia, an artificial intelligence and computer vision start-up. “Because these designs are frozen in advance there is a time lag. Consumer tastes will have changed by then.”
Subramanian was chief operating officer of Myntra before he started Stylumia and works with brands, e-commerce portals and offline clothing stores.
Traditionally, new fashion designs are trends are identified in shows and exhibitions in Europe, where global experts converge and discuss new trends. These designs are frozen and then clothes are stitched and brought to market for the forthcoming seasons.
While globally, there is a shift in consumer preferences, Indian start-ups have been able to work closely with local e-commerce firms to identify these shifts and help them improve their business.
Mad Street Den, based in Chennai, has developed Vue.ai, a artificial intelligence visual recommendation platform that it offers to fashion e-commerce portals, both in India and overseas. Portals such as Craftsvilla, Voonik, YepMe and Kara are its customers..
“Earlier, e-commerce companies were manually entering tags, where people put similar clothes with similar tags. However, this led to human errors and may have not be efficient. With our product, the e-commerce companies get an artificial intelligence enabled end to end stylist assistance,” says Ashwini Asokan, co-founder and CEO of Mad Street Den.” It is very similar to what a stylist does for you at a physical shop, tries to understand your style and then suggest you clothes. Here we use artificial intelligence to do it. ”
These firms are not just looking at local fashion businesses, but eyeing the global fashion industry, which they say is ripe for disruption.
“The decisions on what are the fashion trends that would work next year is still taken on intuitive. It is done by a few people,” says Subramanian. “We provide evidence based on data on what are consumer preferences and what is not. Each brand can customise according to their needs.”
Stylumia has built an artificial intelligence engine that crawls the web for fashion related information, including shopping sites and analyses consumer behaviour to throw customised results to brands and retailers. It is working with over 10 customers on a pilot basis.
Mad Street Den’s Asokan says that every click on an e-commerce site helps understand why customers like one particular trend and not the other on a real time basis.
“This helps minimise losses and also predict trends better. The fashion industry is such that there can be a lot of experimentation in it. Across the globe, we are seeing a shift in the way the industry works. The change has already started and technology will disrupt the way the industry works,” she says.