July 13, 2024

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Crafting Fashion Trends

What Fashion’s E-Commerce and Tech Professionals Need to Know Today

9 min read

Learn more about the latest innovations that will shape fashion in the year ahead, join us in person at the Times Center, New York – or via the global livestream on March 22 for the BoF Professional Summit – New Frontiers: AI, Digital Culture, and Virtual Worlds.

Discover the most relevant industry news and insights for fashion’s e-commerce and technology professionals, updated each month to enable you to excel in job interviews, promotion conversations or perform better in the workplace by increasing your market awareness and emulating market leaders.

BoF Careers distils business intelligence from across the breadth of our content — editorial briefings, newsletters, case studies, podcasts and events — to deliver key takeaways and learnings tailored to your job function, listed alongside a selection of the most exciting live jobs advertised by BoF Careers partners.

Key articles and need-to-know insights for e-commerce and technology professionals today:

1. The Race to Build the Best Generative-AI Platform for Fashion Design

An AI-generated male and female model.

Practically from the moment AI-powered image generators like DALL-E and Midjourney blew up, their potential for fashion was clear: they could allow designers to produce photorealistic renderings of their ideas in moments with only a text prompt. […] But a new wave of start-ups is building generative-AI tools tailored to fashion’s specific needs, hoping to make their software part of the way designers work. Among them is Raspberry, which just raised $4.5 million in a funding round led by big-name backers Khosla Ventures — the first outside investor in OpenAI, creator of ChatGPT — and Greycroft Partners, which has backed companies such as Goop and The RealReal.

“We’re really differentiated versus Midjourney, Stable Diffusion and DALL-E,” said Cheryl Liu, Raspberry’s founder and CEO. “The outputs are much more readily manufacturable, appealing and just things that you could start selling right away.” […] Raspberry offers AI editing so a user can quickly change details on a garment like sleeve length, can turn 2D flat sketches into photorealistic renderings and vice versa and is able to blend images together while holding the silhouette of a garment stable, allowing the user to visualise it in different patterns or fabrics.

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SAP Infrastructure Manager, Moncler — Milan, Italy

Senior Retail Application Manager, Tapestry — Shanghai, China

Senior Workplace Tech Associate, Chalhoub GroupRiyadh, Saudi Arabia

2. For Luxury E-Commerce, It’s Even Worse Than It Looks

US consumer spending across online luxury sellers like Farfetch, Matches and Net-a-Porter suffered sustained declines throughout 2023.

Last year was a particularly harsh one for luxury e-commerce players. Farfetch was in danger of collapse until its last-minute acquisition by Coupang, a South Korean e-commerce giant that provided $500 million in emergency funding. Sales at Yoox Net-a-Porter dropped 10 percent in the six months from April to September, Richemont said. And while privately held Ssense doesn’t report its financials, it started 2023 with layoffs, suggesting struggles of its own.

The issues for multi-brand online luxury sellers aren’t simple ones to fix. In a November note to clients, analysts at Bernstein examined the “consumer of the future” and the impact on different industries. Fashion aggregators — i.e. large multi-brand retailers — face a number of challenges: Consumers build emotional connections foremost with brands, giving brands most of the power; consumers are already overwhelmed by choice, a problem aggregators only add to; and as far as the shopping journey goes, consumers now look to social media for the inspiration and product discovery aggregators once offered.

Related Jobs:

CRM & Email Marketing Manager, De Mellier — London, United Kingdom

E-Merchandiser, Prada Group — Milan, Italy

Digital Operations Manager, Ralph Lauren — New York, United States

3. How Pinterest’s ‘Inclusive AI’ Is Getting Users to Shop

A collage of search results on Pinterest.

Marginalised groups haven’t always seen images of people with their features when searching for ideas online. Pinterest, which built its base of nearly 500 million users largely as a place to find and save inspiration, sees artificial intelligence as at least a partial solution. The company introduced AI-powered filters for skin tone in 2018, allowing users to search for images of people with the same skin colour as them, along with one for body type last September. Pinterest also launched a separate filter for hair patterns in 2021 that lets users find images of people based on hair texture.

The company’s “inclusive AI” automates what would be a gruelling manual process of sifting through its catalogue of 5 billion images to serve user images of people with similar features. Pinterest also sees it as a way to help it build out its social commerce. The personalisation it provides attracts more Gen-Z users, who have a higher expectation for personalised content and are spending more time on the platform than other groups. Since they’re finding the kind of inspirational content they want, they’re also more willing to click on tools like Pinterest’s shoppable “product pins,” which take users directly to a retailer’s site to buy.

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Strategic Partner Manager, Primark — Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Digital Data Analyst, Gucci — Milan, Italy

Staff Software Engineer, Gap Inc. — San Francisco, United States

4. White Paper | Incorporating Generative AI Into the Fashion Workplace

Three AI-generated models in front of an Italian scenic backdrop as an example fashion campaign image created in Midjourney with prompts.

Generative artificial intelligence, or gen AI, is leading the charge of next-gen technologies shaping industries and their workplaces. Already, gen AI can be leveraged across the value chain: from product design and content creation across campaign images, marketing text, website code and videos, to online consumer experiences through virtual styling and digital clienteling. Meanwhile, conventional AI can be leveraged to forecast demand for buying and merchandising teams or gather insights for store associates and retail teams.

The management consultancy firm McKinsey & Company estimates that gen AI could add up to $275 billion of economic potential to apparel, fashion and luxury sectors’ operating profits. This BoF Careers white paper explores how fashion businesses can approach integrating gen AI into their workplace, the core skill sets needed in a digitally competent workforce, and the pastoral requirements to effectively support an employee cohort reimagining its day-to-day practices for long-term success.

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IT Manager, Maison Margiela — Paris, France

Digital Merchandising Assistant, Ugg — Munich, Germany

Digital Product Manager, Coach — New York, United States

5. Why Frasers Group Shuttered Matchesfashion

MatchesFashion's homepage.

Frasers Group is putting Matchesfashion into administration, just over two months after the retail giant acquired the struggling luxury e-tailer for £52 million ($66.6 million), The Business of Fashion has confirmed. Frasers Group originally bought Matchesfashion (which rebranded to Matches late last year) to increase its position in luxury, but brands have begun to sever ties with Matches as some of them have not received payments for months, according to a report in Sky News.

Matches’ grim ending is the most severe outcome so far of the ailing luxury e-commerce sector’s continuing woes. Retailers including Farfetch and Net-a-Porter went from industry darlings to cautionary tales as digital customer-acquisition costs ballooned and pressure to discount crippled margins. Perhaps most consequentially, luxury brands have increasingly reduced their wholesale presence as they’ve encouraged consumers to buy directly on their own e-commerce sites, putting the brands themselves in direct competition with platforms like Matches.

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Customer Service & Experience Manager, Métier — London, United Kingdom

E-Commerce Assistant, Maison Margiela — Paris, France

Site Producer, Chico’s — Fort Myers, United States

6. Can AI Pick Your Next Favourite Beauty Product?


While TikTok Shop and Pinterest’s new AI e-commerce tool have made it easier for users to shop for products seen online, beauty shoppers looking to replicate a look have been left stumped unless there’s an explicit mention of the product. That is, until now. A new tool from Revieve, an artificial intelligence and augmented reality beauty platform called Match My Look aims to solve this pain point. Match My Look users will be able to upload an image of a beauty look — be it from social media, magazines or their phones — and Revieve says the tool will detect the exact products used and then show them where they can purchase said item.

Beauty companies have increasingly been taking advantage of technologies like artificial intelligence and augmented reality to make it easier to buy makeup and skincare online, offering everything from product recommendations and virtual try-ons to skin-analysis tests. It’s also a way to stand out in a competitive beauty landscape. While in a physical retail environment, sales associates and consultants are available to explain different products’ uses and ingredients, the online shopping experience is radically different, said Lindsay Drucker Mann, global chief financial officer at tech firm and beauty incubator.

Related Jobs:

Business Systems Manager, Fred Perry — London, United Kingdom

Senior Data Scientist, On — Berlin, Germany

Senior Service Engineer and Platform Integrator, Tory Burch — New York, United States

7. When Amazon’s New AI Tool Answers Shoppers’ Queries, Who Benefits?

Amazon.com website.

Amazon has begun rolling out a new artificial intelligence assistant that is meant to address shoppers’ product questions, but the feature raises as many questions as it answers. Rufus, as the software is known, will help users, according to Amazon, by guiding them to the toaster ovens or dinosaur toys that best fit their needs. Yet Amazon has a history of steering customers towards products that most benefit Amazon, either because they are more profitable or are backed by advertising dollars.

Like for other generative AI services, the algorithm behind Rufus is a closely-held secret and Amazon declined to discuss how it operates. It offered some clues, including a press release, that said it is trained using Amazon’s product catalogue, reviews, information from the web and question and answer sections. But Michael Pachter, a Wedbush Securities analyst, said Amazon would be turning money away if it didn’t ostensibly open Rufus’ results up to advertisers. “You’ll most likely get sponsored results,” he said. “Advertising drives retail and Amazon is no different – why do you think they are generating tens of billions of dollars in advertising a year?”

Related Jobs:

Service Lifecycle Manager, Burberry — Leeds, United Kingdom

E-Commerce & Customer Service Coordinator, Kiki de Montparnasse — New York, United States

Assistant E-Commerce Operation Manager, Tiffany & Co. — Shanghai, China

8. Fashion Is Already Trying to Cash In on Apple’s Vision Pro

Items in a user's shopping cart appear over a backdrop of a sunny beach in Capri.

It’s too soon to say whether Apple’s Vision Pro will become the next must-have device, but that isn’t stopping fashion and beauty companies from diving in and creating apps for it. The Vision Pro releases Friday at a cost of $3,499, and among those offering apps at launch are Mytheresa, J.Crew and E.l.f. Cosmetics. The companies all created their apps, which are free to download, in partnership with Obsess, a creator of virtual stores that said it’s currently working with a number of other brands on dedicated apps for the Vision Pro.

The device is widely seen as a test of whether Apple can do for headset computers what it previously did for smartphones with its introduction of the iPhone in 2007. The product blends augmented and virtual reality, allowing users to layer digital objects over the physical world or inhabit a fully virtual space. Apple calls it “spatial computing.” In January, pre-orders of the device sold out, with one analyst estimating total orders of 160,000 to 180,000, though demand could wane, the same person warned. Whether the device is a success, brands want to make sure their apps are at least. Mytheresa spent a few months developing its app with Obsess, fixating on details such as the rim of an umbrella or the colour of the sea.

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ICT Infrastructure Manager, Ermenegildo Zegna — Lomazzo, Italy

Global E-Commerce Internship, Hugo Boss — Stuttgart, Germany

Site Merchandising Manager, Bloomingdale’s — New York, United States

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