The Stitch Fix Style Forecast has become so much more than a press campaign used to drum up buzz and consumer excitement before the New Year’s Eve ball drops. In fact, it’s now central to how Stitch Fix shows up for customers across channels.
“The Style Forecast is an embodiment of the art and science to our approach, fueled by billions of data points that we gather across our experiences and through millions of our clients that we engage with,” said Loretta Choy, Chief Merchandising and Client Services Officer for Stitch Fix during a recent Retail Remix interview.
The Style Forecast methodology refers to metrics such as sales data, “like/love” score, a measure of client feedback on specific items, how often items are kept in a “Fix,” client profile data points, search data, Fix request notes and more. Stitch Fix then taps an insights team to conduct a survey of 2,000 U.S.-based men and women Stitch Fix clients, and a separate survey of more than 300 U.S.-based Stitch Fix stylists.
While these quantitative insights drive the foundation of the work, the unique knowledge and expertise of stylists, trend experts and merchandising teams also are central to the Forecast’s accuracy and relevance.
“We look at this as the outside and inside perspectives coming together,” Choy explained. “With our process, we try to understand what is influencing clients today, so we can think about the big themes that may carry forward into 2024. Then, we try to understand what our clients are excited about going into 2024, because a lot of times when clients give us feedback, those requests are mostly forward-looking about trends they’re seeing and want to try. That really feeds into a lot of the data we pull together.”
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Bringing Joy to Dressing
Although Stitch Fix is in the midst of a major transformation plan and recently announced it was doing away with full-time styling positions, the core of the Stitch Fix value proposition remains intact: to use its robust data and insights to empower customers to express themselves through fashion.
“We combine the human touch of our expert stylists with advanced data science,” said Choy. “Some people might talk about this as the art and the science. In my role, I have the pleasure of leading teams who really deliver the art side, because the merchants are thinking about what’s happening in our business, what we see in the data and how we stay on top of what our clients are telling us.”
The Stitch Fix merchandising team also looks outside of the four walls of the business, harnessing their knowledge of fashion trends and designers to bring that right mix of surprise and delight into the experiences. After all, one of the big takeaways from Stitch Fix’s Style Forecast is that decision fatigue is a real thing, with more than half of Stitch Fix clients saying they feel mentally overwhelmed and stressed when deciding what to wear.
“Everyone had an idea of what they were wearing when they were working from home during the pandemic in a Zoom-only environment, but now there’s more to think about in a hybrid environment,” Choy explained.
Consumers are focused on eliminating this fatigue and, in turn, will be focused on Wardrobe Builder, which Stitch Fix defines as “essential, versatile and timeless items that can be mixed and matched for various occasions.” A majority of both women (88%) and men (78%) clients said they were interested in embracing this trend in 2024.
Connecting Culture to Commerce
The Style Forecast also has become a meaningful tool to help Stitch Fix ideate new brand activations and partnerships.
With concerts and cultural events coming back full swing — 81% of Stitch Fix clients said these moments would continue to shape fashion trends in 2024 — the company recently announced a partnership with Spotify, a company also known for its personalization prowess.
Style Tune Up is an interactive experience that creates a personalized playlist and shares which of the four Style Forecast trends best aligns with their preferences. As part of this cultural activation, Stitch Fix also is offering Tune Up Styling Session, which are virtual appointments with a Stitch Fix stylist for any consumer going to a concert in 2024.
“Cultural influences will continue to be top-of-mind for our clients this year and we forecast that big concerts will start to pop up in our clients’ request notes, whether it be Olivia Rodrigo’s Guts tour, Nicki Minaj’s Pink Friday tour or even the next leg of Taylor Swift’s tour,” Choy explained. “We thought it would be a fun experience for us to have these styling sessions, so people could build an outfit for these special occasions.”
The Style Forecast also provides a vehicle to explore more quirky marketing and merchandising themes. For example, Stitch Fix predicts that 2024’s color of the year will be Matcha Green. What would be more apropos than a special pop-up experience with Cha Cha Matcha in NYC and LA? “These are just fun experiences we’re hosting to just help people really connect,” Choy noted.
But culture’s influence on fashion extends far beyond marketing and branding. For example, “maximalist” Barbie-inspired outfits saw a 300% increase in client requests during 2023, according to the Style Forecast, and 47% of female clients said they drew fashion inspiration from Barbie star Margot Robbie. Similarly, requests for more subtle “capstone” looks that fall under the “Quiet Luxury” trend category skyrocketed by 975%, thanks in large part to the premiere of Succession’sfinal season.
“Our teams are focused on how to bring some of these big themes to life,” Choy said. “First we ask, what are the most essential items that our clients have been asking for and will continue to ask for? We lean into more traditional merchandising-type exercises for this, looking at our brand matrix and looking at assortment balance. Then, we partner with our data science teams to really leverage tools they have developed to help us make better decisions around the types of products to buy, to ensure that we have the right balance supporting each of these themes.”