How big data will change the fashion industry

Big data is an expected element in scientific and clinical endeavors like health care and weather prediction, but many would be surprised to hear that this cloud computing technology can dictate the trends of tomorrow. The fashion industry has begun to take its cues from the mass aggregation of information, which can monitor consumer information, demographics and spending habits and determine what the next major trends are. While these decisions used to be left to leaders in the industry, data analysis can now have a major role in what's hot next season.

The art of trend forecasting
In true fashion to the industry of the same name, bloggers and media alike have coined a different term for big data meeting beauty - "trend forecasting" is the term Wall Street Journal contributor Kathy Gordon used to describe information analysis. 

"The forecasting companies offer analysis of fashion shows, data on the current market offerings and - for an added fee - bespoke research and consultancy services," Gordon explained. "The data are generated by teams of staff employed to trawl art exhibitions, events, restaurants and even scientific journals."

According to a study conducted by the Worth Global Style Network, this trend in ingratiating cloud hosting into the catwalk has shown increased sales and customer satisfaction for the past three years. While these studies can't be used to decide whether navy or robin's egg blue will be the hottest hue next season, they're intended to indicate to designers and retailers that they're "on the same page" with the industry regarding what's on the horizon. The practice has existed for the years preceding the cloud infrastructure, but the use of technology has made predictions more informed and added value for those investing.

Big data as a customer behavior tool
Industry blog Business of Fashion conducted a recent interview with Kenneth Cukier, data editor at The Economist, and Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, professor of Internet governance and regulation at Oxford University, about what techniques would be used to make big data a big part of trend prediction.

"As we collect and analyze far more data about people's interactions, individual preferences will become much better known, more comprehensively and in greater detail than ever before," Mayer-Schönberger and Cukier stated. "That provides valuable insights for the fashion industry, from what products might perform best, in general, down to what will likely sell well in which store locations, what products are successful when placed next to each other and how to optimize retail experiences."

Big data is extremely useful in a marketing capacity, using information like customer demographics and spending habits, in terms of how much they spend, on what and where. In addition to these habits, companies that invest in cloud computing studies can monitor how their existing marketing strategies are working - eye scanning data can be analyzed to see the effectiveness of billboards and other visual advertising.

Though there's no substitute for intuition in a creative industry, big data certainly has its place in steering young designers and major fashion houses alike in the right direction for their next big show.

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