Fashion-Speak in Search

For anyone who has studied a foreign language, you’ll know there are countless ways in which you can make a minor spelling or pronunciation mistake altering the entire meaning of what was intended. Take my classic faux pas (aka “brutta figura”) in Italy. The word in Italian for the pen shaped pasta is “penne” with a double “n”. Without pronouncing the second “n”, you could end up ordering the male organ with tomato sauce. Now that’s embarrassing, and I did just that. Errors like this occur with online searches all the time, even on the best websites out there. In the fashion industry, the following sites are regarded as being top in their class: Shopbop, Zara, Arizia, COS and Totokaelo. Indeed they are for the breadth of their assortment, the ease and speed of navigating their sites, and essentially for finding on trend fashion. This doesn’t mean their sites are perfect, however, as highlighted by the following examples.

Note what I found when looking for “little black dress” on site A:

4 results appeared for “little black dress”

I might have thought that the brand only had 4 possible options, but when I broadened my search to “black dresses”, I found 1,576 dresses, hundreds of which fit the bill for “little black dress”.

When I typed in “Black Dresses” (capitalised B and D), I found 788 items.

The subtle differences in word choice or even in the capitalization of letters could mean I might find (and buy) that perfect dress or not. That’s revenue for your company or your competition.

Let’s have a look at site B and what I found for “black dress”. While black dresses did in fact appear, so did dresses only available in solid red or white.

Only 2 dresses match my criteria for little BLACK dress.

A final example illustrating the semantic challenges I stumbled across while searching for the little black dress on site C include either “No Results” when in fact the site has 164 black dresses many of which match the criteria for little black dress:

No results found although 164 gorgeous black dresses on site.


It confused my search, this time for “black mini dress”, with the word “Midi” dress which is more of a maxi than a mini.

Center dress is Midi not mini.

Fashion has a very specific language and if you sell online, you want to speak the same language as your customer. If she wants mini dresses and you’re selling mini and midi dresses, how can you be sure that she’ll find what she’s looking for? This is exactly the careful study, and exhaustive work, that has done and can offer fashion and apparel companies. Our software truly understands the products it finds and discovers for our users. We apply artificial intelligence and deep learning to facilitate an accurate understanding of customers’ preferences. We offer a unique human like ability to understand queries using words and images to ultimately enhance conversion and customer engagement on your site. Who wants to order the wrong thing off the menu based on a slight pronunciation mistake? I know I didn’t!