The digital age desperately wants to help consumers answer an important, age-old question: What should I wear today?
The "hows" of solving that question have become increasingly high-tech in recent years. At any number of websites, consumers can answer a questionnaire that covers their relevant measurements and sartorial preferences to create a profile. From there, the magic of machine learning takes over. Using what the customer said about their preferences, in combination with the types of items the customer browses and buys, sophisticated AIs start "thinking" hard about how to best match the customer with the right look they will love.
Computers get it wrong? Well, that is the reason for free returns.
It's not a terrible model, observed Kelly Collins, president of Worth Collection, but it's an incomplete one because the question of a customer’s true personal style is not something that is easily cracked by a computer.
“How do you really know someone’s fashion style?” Collins said. “You can’t until you really get to know that consumer on a personal level. Finding one’s style through a computer-generated questionnaire and algorithm may get lost in translation — one fashion style may mean something completely different for that shopper.”
This is where Worth looks to set itself apart as a brand: helping consumers construct their own looks, not through an automated process, but through a real interaction with a real stylist.
Founded in 1991, Worth's first focus was on its two lines, Worth New York and W by Worth. The company is a direct-to-consumer fashion brand wherein goods are delivered to customers through Worth Stylists and the company's website. The values the brand most strongly pursues — when outfitting the "Worthers" who shop there — are timelessness, luxury and affordability.
Though Worth has its doubts about a totally automated, technologically-driven approach to curating fashion items for consumers, the brand is all about using technology to better-enhance those more personal relationships. That is why, as of last week, Worth was touting the Worth Collection app, designed to give shoppers access to its personal fashion stylists 24/7, as well as the looks the customers create directly on the mobile device they are almost certainly carrying.
"That’s what sets us apart. We’re not simply styling, we’re wardrobing by having that personal connection with our customers,” said Collins. "With our app, our customers can now get fresh looks instantly 24/7, hand-picked by their personal stylists on their mobile devices. But, most importantly, it’s another avenue for them to continue to build and strengthen their relationship.”
The app is designed around building as flexible a shopping experience as possible — the entire Worth New York and W collections are available on the app and shoppers are free to add individual pieces or entire looks. The app can also be the user's home base where they can register, connect with a stylist, and create a page to act as their receptacle for looks they love and the fashion ideas they are exploring. The strongest and most important feature, though, according to the Worth team, is the messaging feature that allows consumers to stay constantly connected to their stylist when they need them. Moreover, the user's designated stylist has access to that Home Page, making it an easy venue for two-way communication, information and ideas.
The new app is looking promising so far, coming out of beta. For the last three months, the firm has been testing its app service. In that time, Worth’s stylists have created over 34,000 looks for their clients and sent over 72,000 personalized style recommendations. In all, they credit the app with pushing a 34-percent average order value.
Overall, consumers are looking for a more personal touch in shopping. The team at Worth seems to be making a winning bet on the idea that personalized service might be, in some cases at least, better offered up to a consumer by a person (as opposed to a clever machine).