Data Science is ‘Trending’ in the Fashion Industry
By Aditi Bhat
It’s like the story of The Beauty and the Beast, the most unpredictable but surprisingly perfect match for each other. The “Beast” in reference here is the chaotic multi-billion dollar fashion industry and the “Beauty” here is the works of a powerful and clear model produced by Data Science. It’s this Beauty that’ll drive the Beast forward.
The fashion industry is an extremely competitive market. In fashion, creative minds work together for endless hours to create global trends for ONE runway event, and the impact of their designs is simply reduced to a simple Hot or Not verdict by fashion pundits. But Data Science is here to help create trends that will always be HOT!
Data Science is changing the fashion industry by collecting data, processing it and giving actionable insights that can potentially revolutionize it. But, that’s a lot of data – such as engagement on social media posts, trends on Instagram, what celebrities are wearing, what people are buying and much more! So all of this data is mined with advanced models and its output is converted into a form that’s easily understood, even by a layman.
Data Science helps the fashion industry with various predictive algorithms that help them make wiser business decisions. For example, fashion trends can be forecasted to tell you whether the latest Kanye West fashion line, Yeezy Season 2, will get a good response or not. Or even something as basic as help a designer decide whether he/she should design clothing for women or men.
Let’s take a real world example; a company such as Zara manufactures huge volumes of clothing for different demographics globally. When something is at such a huge scale, something as simple as size, body shape, colour preferences and quantity will vary greatly. So how does Data Science help Zara produce the right quantity of products with minimize wastage? Data Scientists gather purchase behavior of consumers (in a specific region) and slice it up in different categories such as:
- Price range
- Popular /trending colours
- Other specific parameters important to Zara
This in turn helps Zara predict the quantity and type of clothing that’ll get sold – in that specific geography – next season. This model can save them millions of dollars by reducing the number of overproduced products. In Data Science terms, this is nothing other than basic data mining of large amounts of structured and unstructured data to identify patterns that can help an organization make better informed decisions.
Just like calculating the right quantity to produce, various data models could be created to address specific problems in the fashion industry. Data Scientists would have to cover topics ranging from predictive algorithms, visual search, capturing structured data from photographs, natural language processing and many more. The possibilities, and therefore the opportunities, are endless.
Remember, the very core of Data Science - Probability and Optimization - is creating huge waves in this glamorous field. Fashion has empowered people all over the world in its own way, and now this industry is waiting to be disrupted.
As the famous fashion designer Coco Chanel once said “In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different”. And the fashion industry is doing just that by joining hands with the ‘beauty’ of Data Science.