Fashion brand Guess may be built on nearly four decades of history, but the American company has its sights set firmly on the future if its latest collaboration with Chinese retail giant Alibaba is anything to go by.
Guess and Alibaba first partnered in 2013, launching the fashion label on Alibaba’s business-to-consumer online marketplace Tmall. This year, Guess became a global strategic partner of Alibaba’s FashionAI project, culminating in the launch of a popup shop offering a glimpse into the future for fashion retailers using artificial intelligence (AI).
The popup ran for three days at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, pairing Guess’ retail knowledge with Alibaba’s AI capabilities. Using technology like smart mirrors and RFID, the aim was to experiment with providing a better retail experience for shoppers and to help brands better use analytics to track inventory.
Smart mirrors were used instore to display product information when shoppers picked up an item, which they could then add to a virtual shopping cart. This alerted staff to take the requested items to a fitting room where the customer could try them on.
Smart mirrors were used in the Alibaba Guess store.
Each product had its own intelligent lock, supported by RFID, gyro-sensors and Bluetooth low-energy chips, which allowed the mirrors to accurately capture movement. The mirrors were also able to ‘learn’ which colours and styles were most popular and make outfit recommendations based on this.
Investment over the past seven years has contributed to the system’s capabilities to recognise clothing and spot fashion trends. This helps it go beyond recommending one item at a time and instead provide an entire ‘mix-and-match’ outfit.
Alibaba’s AI recommendation capabilities will soon extend beyond bricks-and-mortar. The company plans to release a ‘virtual wardrobe’ feature on its Taobao app, which will allow users to view clothes they have tried on instore and see recommendations from other brands.
Alibaba Group vice president Zhuoran Zhang said using AI to offer complex recommendations is a major step for fashion retail.
“This would be the equivalent of consumers having their own personal stylists,” he said. “FashionAI embodies our thinking of what the future of fashion retail could look like and is an exploration of using technologies to better understand and cater to consumers’ fashion needs.
“With Guess’ retail expertise, we are able to train and refine our FashionAI system, and marry technology with fashion in a way that’s never been done before. We are looking forward to deepening our partnership to innovate personalised services offered in retail shops.”
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