Is Netflix able to dominate the fashion area?

Recommendations from Netflix, Mixes from Spotify, Feeds from YouTube, et cetera.

Algorithms are not a fad like fashion. If you look around right now, it would not be an exaggeration to say that this technology is close to Zeitgeist that dominates us. In an era when algorithm-based artificial intelligence technology determined human life, it is impossible to escape this reality with fashion.

A prime example of fashion and algorithms is Stitch Fix. The company, which had hired stylists to offer styling to customers remotely, hired Netflix’s data science executive Eric Colson in 2012, who will lead the company’s algorithms until 2021. The company’s description is as follows: This company recommends the most suitable products by time-based on a data-driven algorithm according to the style profile created by the customer. This one-line explanation does not seem too difficult to apply to Netflix if only the words are appropriately changed. A company that recommends the most suitable movie group by genre based on the customer’s movie taste set based on a data-based algorithm.

So, what exactly is customer-tailored clothing? Looking at Stitch Fix’s “suggestion”, it seems that customisation is a styling based on collected consumer data. They recommend suitable clothes based on customer tastes, body types, and current trends. Even Amazon and Shein are further building a system that analyses many images found on AI and immediately releases new products. They are creating a situation where they run beyond the trend’s fast followers. This process is reminiscent of the automation of consumption. Consumers only provide their records, and their judgment does not intervene in the purchase process. In other words, it is one of the stages of production where even a consumer’s purchase happens because companies suggest and induce the order based on the accumulated data.

How and by whom will the trend be formed when this perspective becomes a reality rather than a leap? When an individual’s style leaves the individual, what remains there? Will the joy of clothes and fashion still exist? It is self-evident that design development requires new people and new ways of thinking. However, is the inflow of the above elements sustainable if the supplier replaces the subject of this styling?

Fashion is an industry where everyone fuels their desire to imitate the fantasy of that era, so it is dangerous to standardise fantasies by algorithms. Algorithms can undermine creativity in this industry. We are concerned that algorithms may even threaten the fashion industry’s sustainability because fashion is particularly vulnerable to algorithms. Is there any place for punk under this technique?

There will never be a situation where everyone will wear uniform clothes like a uniform at any moment, and the initial worries are not about this situation. I believe that consumers will always face a fashion market with an unprecedented range of choices in the future. But whether this diversity is true diversity is another matter. Netflix has also given us unprecedented access to past films. But are we really approaching all these movies? With so many movies in front of us, it’s not the first time we’ve wasted time not deciding what to watch. How is it different from the situation where most of the earth lives among humans, with all seeds and animals being ‘archived’ in one place to preserve diversity? The true diversity of clothes may be encountered in museums in the future or exist only as data beyond the screen.

Taste is a personal choice and will. The sense of taste and preference selection is the same human judgment ability. Since the meaning of artificial intelligence is intelligence that imitates human intelligence, our judgment ability can be replicated as well, but can our preferences without our judgment be possible? And does it make any sense?

“Taste classifies, and it classifies the classifier” — Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste, Pierre Bourdieu (1979)

Who is the classifier in the fashion under the judgment of the algorithm? From now on, does “classifier” refer only to classification models of artificial intelligence? Pierre Bourdieu has mentioned that simple decorations such as dishes and clothes are the most crucial part of our identity. We seem to be giving up on the essential part. The reason why the trend is trend is that there are people who can understand and share their tastes. If you don’t know your taste, fashion is just a compulsion with no choice. As more and more people are assigned to fashion every year forcibly, AI will learn about them and move toward ignoring the preferences of a few.

A radical part of fashion, whether punk or avant-garde, would be just an unnecessary element for the algorithm that calculates the tastes of the majority. However, the avant-garde is never the mainstream or the majority. Because the moment the avant-garde becomes mainstream, it is time for the avant-garde to fulfil its role and step back from the times. Looking back on how fashion has developed, the disappearance of the “minority” is a disaster. New technologies seem to usher in a new era. I can understand that everyone desired that their era was the beginning of the Renaissance. But perhaps it is better to remember the history of the Dark Ages much longer than the Renaissance.



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