You begin with high hopes. Surely, the whole of the fashion industry is at your feet; after all, you are not asking for much, and you have just been paid. There are thousands and thousands of jackets. You flick through site after site... browsing, browsing, browsing. All the jackets are either the wrong style or the wrong colour. Occasionally, you find one that would be perfect if it weren’t for some weird stylistic feature that an overexcited fashion designer had inflicted on it. With many of them, the fabric doesn’t appeal. Some great ones are eye-poppingly expensive. Then you find a perfect one.
Turns out it’s not available in your size.
You remember what a pain it was trying and failing to find a jacket for exactly this purpose before. You’ve just re-lived another wasted hour of your life that was irritating enough the first time it happened. You sigh. There is really isn’t anything as dispiriting as looking for inspiration and finding nothing but buzz kill.
Worse still, it’s annoying to think of the items in your wardrobe that are just sitting there, useless, because they really need that jacket. They’ve been there for months, and you are beginning to think that you will never use them. Fashion road kill. And those aren’t the only unserviceable clothes in there: to your eternal irritation there are garments hanging in your closet which you do not wear, have not worn, and will never wear because they are not right for you. They should have been sent back at the start, but you just couldn’t be bothered. Who has the time for all this? What a waste.
Imagine a time that you could go online looking for clothes and everything that you see is something that you would want, because it has been expertly filtered for you.
Now here you are, looking for a jacket for such a wedding, but this time you are being shown a succession of items that have been curated
to tone with the clothes that you have: they are all available in your size and at a price that suits your pocket. You can get the pick of the crop: a superb jacket that you just can’t wait to get your hands on.
Your personal stylist (a bot, of course) pops up and asks if you would like a little extra input. You say yes. The stylist knows about the wedding from your diary, and shows you a pair of shoes on sale that would smarten up the outfit; effortlessly bringing it up to ‘wedding’ level. It also reminds you that you actually have a really good new suit in your wardrobe that you haven’t worn yet. You bought it reduced at the end of last summer, and had forgotten all about it. If you decide that this wedding might be an excellent opportunity for its first outing, the bot could find you a selection of items to complete the outfit. You’ve now got a choice of two options.
The bot then suggests that the suit would subsequently make a key asset for your upcoming client presentations at work, and it suggests some combinations to re-work it for a professional take on the look.
After this quick, inexpensive and easy problem-solving session, you’re feeling good, and you start browsing. Now you’re just window-shopping for pleasure, but are beginning to think that you might go ahead and update your style a bit with a few other new pieces. You like everything you see. Excellent colours, great styles... some surprises, and cool things that you would really love to try on. You already know it’s all within your price range and will fit you perfectly.
The tech makes you aware that you seem particularly fond of a certain look, and recommends that you buy other similar items. It also reminds you that one of your well-worn tops may need replacing. It looks like it is going to be a hot summer and you will need it soon.
A long time ago on the recommendation of a friend who (somewhat smugly) always looked really put together and effortlessly stylish you let the tech into your life. You did it slowly, because you didn’t trust it at first. After a while, however, you came to see the bot for what it was. Completely confidential; an extension of you that went out into the web to find what you wanted. Everything that you put into your profile everything you allowed it access to was still your own completely private information. It was your
tool for getting exactly what you desired by clearing the way through the dross and fetching you what you were looking for. It is as if your own brain with all the time in the world has gone online shopping for you without having to use up a single second of your time.
Gradually, like your stylish friend, you totally ‘got it’, and you allowed the bot to have access to your social media, your photographs, body scans, interactive clothing, sports, hobbies, wearable tech, activities, nights out, location information, phone and holidays... and you regularly updated it with new information about such things as career developments. The system is clever enough automatically to check up home weather forecasts and climate reports on your holiday destinations.
You are happy to spend a couple of minutes informing it about any new fabrics you like, or price-preferences that you change (you find that you can spend a little more on individual purchases now, because you aren’t wasting money on the wrong things, and what you are buying fits you so well that you want to hang on to it for longer). Your wardrobe works together seamlessly, so you are able to create many more looks from what you have.
You have even allowed your sister special ‘gift’ access to your bot when she was buying your birthday present. Knowing that she delights in nagging you about your weight, you only did so because you were completely confident that she couldn’t get hold of any of your vital statistics. The result was the best and most unexpected present she ever got you. That cerulean jumper has hardly ever been off your back.
You smile when you think about the struggles you had before you worked out this clever way of organising your purchases. What an improvement now! It’s hard to remember you actually hated shopping
. How is that possible? Now you love it.
During this browsing session the bot pops up again and asks you whether you would like some new direction. You say yes (you like this process, which happens every now and again). There is then a stream of new looks on your screen. Different styles and colours inspired by magazines, designers, fashion journalists, celebrities, bloggers and social media trends, plus a couple of nudges from mates who want to show you stuff. Among these completely new looks, if there are any styles that you particularly like, you show your approval. Those that you hate, you dismiss, and the bot takes note. You nudge a couple of friends with some of the new ideas, and there's a little online banter between you and some of them.
You learned that you could manage the way the curator interfaces with you, and someone recommended that you let it challenge your style now and again. You are grateful that you did this, because it has stopped you getting stale; the bot asks if you would like to clear some of your old preferences, and you realise that it's probably time to leave some outmoded looks behind.
It’s exciting to see the latest fashion that is coming through, and you put certain favoured fresh styles into your preferences as you go along: throwing up some entirely new, cool looks.
Over time, you have become more confident, and this has affected your everyday life. You used to feel a bit insecure at important work events, or when meeting people, but now you always feel that you are wearing the right clothes, which is one thing less to worry about. You also have forgotten what it felt like to wear ill-fitting clothes, so you feel less negative about your body. Stylistically, you have grown: you never before realised that you actually had rather good taste, and a lot of fashion creativity but now it’s obvious that you do. Just look at you.
The only problem that you could find with your curated fashion
is that, should you ever go back to shopping without it, you would lose patience almost immediately.
After all, who on earth wants to put up with the waste, the irritation, the time-consumption, the expense and the disappointment of shopping without the help of the clever tech that they developed back in the first third of the twenty-first century?