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  • Writer's pictureDeanna Meador

Building a look- how do you do this when shopping online?

During the fall of 2019, I spoke with hundreds of shoppers from 5 different countries to learn about their apparel shopping behaviors both on and offline. One of the really fun parts of these conversations for me was getting a chance to hear about all the ways shoppers tried to build outfits online. 

Cindy, for example, told me she would open up 3-4 garment product pages, sometimes from the same brand and sometimes from different brands, in new windows on her laptop and then try to resize and position the windows so she could see all the items at the same time. She would use this process to determine which bottoms would make for the best match with a given top or vice versa. Others talked about copying and pasting the photos from a brand’s website into a document and creating their own style mood board of sorts. I heard about sending screenshots back and forth between friends and sharing comments about what outfits they liked and didn’t like for each other. During these conversations, I didn’t hear any consistent info about apps or other tools that shoppers found really valuable that were designed to satisfy this deep desire to create personalized looks. 

So, what has changed in the last 4 years to allow customers the opportunity to go beyond seeing only the outfits styled together by a brand? 

Fast forward to 2024 and we’ve seen some interesting developments that tend to fall into 3 primary categories. 

  1. Outfit Building and Closet Organization: Solutions that allow people to upload photos of items they own and/or utilize a brand’s products to organize them into outfits, sometimes with filters that help the user choose an outfit based on their mood or even the weather. These solutions also have variations that allow users to discover garments they might not otherwise have found on their own and are often combined with product recommendation algorithms. 

  1. Product Design: Solutions that allow users to design or customize apparel and other physical products. Many of these start with the user writing a prompt or uploading sketches or photos that get turned into new product designs. Sometimes they create products that would be difficult, if not impossible, to actually produce, but that look really intriguing. Sometimes they allow users to create custom style artwork to be printed on tees and other goods rather than designing an apparel item itself or building an outfit. 

  1. Model and Background Editing: Solutions that can show products on AI-generated models and change out image backgrounds to show different scenes, lighting, etc. These solutions can allow users to see apparel on a more diverse array of people and in different settings than what is available in a brand’s photography. When these solutions are used to replace human models and photographers, they have received criticism. 

There has been a lot of development in just a few short years with much more on the horizon. Macy’s implemented a Complete the Look feature where users can see a complete outfit from most of their product pages and swap items out for other similar choices. 3100 West implemented LookBookX where visitors can build their own personalized bridesmaid or mother-of-the-bride dress and have them sewn and shipped in less than 2 weeks. This tool saw over 10K dresses created in the first 2 weeks with no paid promotion. Users visiting the Design Your Own Dress page spent over 500% more time engaging with the products than a typical e-commerce product page. Dapper Boi recently implemented StyleMate Jordan to offer styling options for its entire collection. 

In a future blog, we’ll dive deeper into the data behind this growing trend to offer personalized styling and custom design tools to serve brands and their customers. 

An Exciting New Offering

In fall of 2023, the Couture Technologies team came together to develop a new e-commerce offering, LookBookX. 

Since launching LookBookX only a few short weeks ago, it has already been deployed 4 times with new implementation requests coming in each week. It is the rapid adoption of new solutions that will drive disruptive (not just incremental) changes that show us what the next -gen e-commerce experience can be. In the near future, utilizing digital solutions to enhance the customer shopping experience will be a requirement from customers as the impact of the current generational shift and the environmental and revenue implications for continuing with the status quo become no longer sustainable.  

For brands- don’t be afraid to try something new! This is a way to stand out in a crowded marketplace. AI-powered styling tools can be implemented often in less than a month at a really attractive price point.

For shoppers- go build an outfit! It is really fun and you get to style a look that’s perfect for you. Usage drives technology to keep getting better and better.


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