Clothes, Tech, & the Future
The clothing world is doing a 180° right now and no one in small town America is noticing. I’m not talking about fashion. This isn’t about Gucci or Prada. This isn’t about “Made in USA” or about some niche brand either. This isn’t about LA and NYC. This is about the clothes we buy and wear on a day in and day out basis in cities that aren’t fashion forward.
As someone that has lived in Memphis my entire life I’ve grown up with mall stores and Targets. Flashback to middle school and you’d see my friends and I rocking Airwalks and Goldsmith’s brands in the mid-90s. By the turn of the century we were rocking Structure carpenter jeans, New Balance, and American Eagle graphic T’s. Come post-2010 to now and you’ll find guys nerding out about clothes and fashion more than Aziz nerds out about pasta.
So let’s go back 10 years to 2007. We didn’t shop online for clothes. Small town USA enjoyed to go to the mall or to Target, because 1) it was something to do and 2) there weren’t options online like there are today. No one enjoyed shopping for clothing online.
But to keep it 100%, no one likes it now either. Especially women in Memphis I talk to. They want to try it on and touch it because “everything fits different.” It’s a straight up hassle to deal with returns, finding a new box if the first one is messed up, not being sure if it’s UPS or USPS, when you have to return it so you don’t know where to take it and maybe there isn’t a UPS store close. You get it.
Come the mid-2010’s and you see men start to care about their appearance, their grooming products, and you see brands popping up all over. Instagram pin brands, or streetwear brands, and you see people ordering more and more products online from sites like Nordstrom and Amazon, some of which have free shipping and returns. You see brands that connect with their audience like Modcloth and Warby Parker. This is what is starting to change the way we’ll buy clothes and we don’t even realize it.
People don’t realize that J. Crew is tanking and that Modcloth and Bonobos are now owned by Walmart. They may have missed that Amazon has created an Echo that will Look at you and tell you if your outfit is a thumbs up or thumbs down. They also don’t realize that you can already do that in the Amazon app with mirror selfie pics. People aren’t aware that Amazon has their own brand of clothes to compete with Target and Walmart. They’re unaware of the fact that Target is about to drop two of their most popular brands, Merona and Mossimo, or that Abercrombie & Fitch did a complete rebrand with a men’s retail mastermind and still may have to file for bankruptcy.
Shopping for clothes is about to change.
We’re about to shop for clothes in ways we never thought of. I already know some women that have used Stitchfix, and I know some men that have used Trunk Club. These are companies that send you a box of clothes that they think you’d be into, and you try them on and send back the ones you don’t want. A risk-free way of trying on clothes that you can’t get at a local store. But let’s take this one step further and talk about the marketing and connection of brands behind all of this.
Let’s say you have an Amazon Look and you get a new box from Stitchfix. You can try on outfits for the Amazon Look and they’ll tell you which outfit is fire or garbage, and maybe that helps you know which products to keep and return. But at this point Amazon has your outfits in their database and can begin to market back to you what they think you’re interested in. They can start to realize your color patterns, your most popular pieces, what is in trend and what isn’t in trend based on the number of outfits they start to get from everyone. And this ties back to the Amazon branded clothes I mentioned earlier. If Amazon realizes that those collared shirts women are wearing everywhere right now are in, then they can just create their own product based off the number of pictures they have. And maybe they’re not there not yet, but I believe Amazon will get to the point that their cameras get a close estimate of measurements and sizes and build another database out of that. Then they’ll know what measurements to make for their products. And then they can adjust. And maybe, just maybe, they’ll make made-to-order correct sizing for you. It’s not impossible.
People really don’t want to have to go through a lot of effort for clothes. They want to go to the store, know the clothes that it, and get what they want/need and go home. Unless you’re weird like me, then shopping for clothes isn’t the definition of fun. So this is what companies are trying to figure out.
They’re trying to figure out how to make shopping for clothes online easier, how they can keep it internal, and how they can build brand loyalty. Young people like brands. They like what their friends like. Goes along with all the “Millennial” and “Generation Z” stuff you’ve probably read or heard about over the past couple of years. But corporations are just now figuring out how to do this, while mall brands fall to bankruptcy because their overhead is through the roof.
So yeah, I believe before you know it you’ll be getting clothes shipped to you that are made in your size, in colors you like, in styles the suppliers believe you’ll like, while you upload pictures to a database to make the whole system run like a well oiled machine.