Robot Stylist? A Hard Pass
Skepticism and utter confusion are appropriate terms to describe my general reaction to strange developments in the fashion industry; however, when we're combining that with my indefinitely glazed-over eyes at the thought of machine learning and artificial intelligence, we have a recipe for disaster.
So, I proudly present to you... Amazon's Echo Look.
Here was my thought process upon seeing this:
Stage 1: Discomfort
Why does this Echo Look resemble an elongated Eve from WALL-E? It's ruining my childhood a bit and freaks me out a lot. (Pixar, any thoughts on litigation?) But let's focus on the product. Why does this product normalize a creepy vibe of constant surveillance and why does it add YET ANOTHER potential judgmental eye to my strange fashion sense? What actual benefit can this product offer to people who struggle with fashion sense? Why is Amazon advertising for me to spend $200 to get laughed at?
Stage 2: Actually being an adult and doing some research
Turns out, this isn't just a product where you can ask, "How do I look?" and receive an uncomfortable "ehhhh, try again" in response. Amazon claims that the product will take pictures of your outfit (upon your request, duh) and use algorithms "based on current trends and what flatters you" to suggest future outfits. That's basically the Style Check feature, which will compare your outfits with each other to see which ensembles might work best on you. So it seems that the success of this product relies on your already existent fashion choices with potentially some influence of the world around us (read: you're going to see a lot of Stan Smith and sheer black mesh shirts... fantastic!). The interface looks a lot like Instagram too.
Stage 3: Final thoughts
Let's preface this by saying that I don't really trust machines. We like to think AIs and software developments can make our lives a lot easier, but that might just be a huge aspect of White America. I know that might take some people aback, but just think about the mechanisms running soap dispensers or facial recognition that leave some demographics at a loss. As for this product, it seems that it's for people who already have cohesive looks and would potentially ogle at the thought of its built-in ring light. If you're really looking for some help with fashion sense, you might want to consider some cheaper and better suited products, such as subscription fashion boxes. Think Birchbox and Ipsy but led by fashion experts. Some great examples are Le Tote, Rocksbox, and Stitchfix. These boxes will curate - through a short quiz - what sorts of styles you like and send you monthly boxes of what will work best for you. If you don't like it, there are decent return policies as well.
It seems that maybe this is just a fad and it'll go away or maybe Amazon will find a way to make this product a little more productive. I'm not sure. But for now, I'll steer clear.
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