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Ever wished you could have your own personal style advisor on hand to give the thumbs up or down to your outfit before you head out for the day? Amazon is hoping a new addition to their Echo range will be the answer to your prayers. The Echo Look is a hands-free camera with Alexa voice functionality, which means it can take a full-length photo and give vocal feedback on your look. It will also recommend products based on what you usually wear, making it a powerful sales tool for Amazon.
So far the Echo Look is available by invitation only (Amazon’s version of beta testing), and early reviews have been dubious. In addition to concerns about the user data this product enables Amazon to collect and how they will use it, critics have also questioned the ability for a virtual assistant to have taste. The idea of trusting the style opinions of a camera that speaks is pretty ridiculous.
However, the fact that Amazon has invested in this product shows they see a future in the concept, and trends in other industries outside fashion suggest it may not seem so crazy in a few years’ time, especially to those who grew up in the algorithm age. In music, there’s an ongoing debate about the value of curation vs. algorithm, but users have embraced Spotify’s auto-generated Discover Weekly playlist. Younger consumers are also more comfortable interacting with virtual assistants, striking up a conversation with Alexa or Siri without the self-consciousness or cynicism of older generations.
If Echo Look or a similar product does take off in the future, it could have major implications for the fashion industry. Online publishers and content creators are already in a position where the fate of their work is in the hands of an algorithm, and the only way to seize control and reach their target audience is to pay for visibility. Similarly, fashion brands may find their revenue hit if their products don’t please the algorithm, and they’ll be competing against Amazon’s own products, which will naturally be given preferential treatment.
Amazon may not be a major player in the fashion industry now, but WWD predicts they are ones to watch. Creating their own in-house brands, they can use data to inform product development, and the Echo Look will be an invaluable asset in predicting exactly what the customer wants.
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