Amazon Creates AI-Based Tools for Spotting Fashion Trends

Amazon is developing systems based on artificial intelligence algorithms that are aimed at spotting fashion trends and, eventually, shaping them. The effort could boost Amazon’s sales in clothing, perhaps even gaining a dominant position in fashion. The e-commerce giant isn’t alone in making recommendations based on products appearing in social media, and highlighting the resulting trends; Instagram and Pinterest also pinpoint trends and react quickly to them, as does startup subscription service Stitch Fix.

MIT Technology Review reports that, “Amazon, meanwhile, is making moves to bolster its apparel business, developing its own clothing brands, investing in high-quality photography for products, and launching Prime Wardrobe, which lets customers try on clothes before buying them.” Amazon’s hands-free Echo Look camera even gives the consumer feedback on the look via voice assistant Alexa.

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“There’s been a whole move from companies like Amazon trying to understand how fashion develops in the world,” said Cornell University professor Kavita Bala. “This is completely changing the industry.”

To push the capabilities of its algorithms further, Amazon researchers in Israel have “developed machine learning that, by analyzing just a few labels attached to images, can deduce whether a particular look can be considered stylish,” a technology that “could conceivably provide fashion feedback or recommendations for adjustments.”

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Another team of Amazon researchers at its San Francisco-based Lab126 has “developed an algorithm that learns about a particular style of fashion from images, and can then generate new items in similar styles from scratch,” which Technology Review dubs “a simple AI fashion designer.”

This latter technology relies on “a generative adversarial network, or GAN” made up of “two deep neural networks operating in tandem to learn efficiently from raw data.” The GAN, which was developed by a Google Brain researcher, can learn “the properties of a particular style simply by looking at lots of examples, and it can then apply that style to an existing item of clothing.”