And it is bound to stay that way.

In the last few years, the biggest change we have seen in the commerce space is digitization. With the arrival of the digital landscape we also saw that it has two unique characteristics that is not shared by traditional business setup: one is that digital keeps changing a lot. Secondly, digital channels provide loads of data about what the shopper searches, wants to know, tries to do, does and abandons. This unprecedented level of heaps of data has originated in e-commerce environment that built sophisticated recommendation systems that read and understand behavioral and transactional data. Thereafter, the data is used to make recommendations based on customer segments relevant to group of shoppers.

The graph of Personalization Evolution is something as follows. It started with customers being segmented into multiple groups for better understanding of customers by their demographic and behavioral identifiers. It was succeeded by Behavioral Recommendations. For example, it is something you must have seen on Amazon where additional items are recommended to you based on your site interaction and purchase history data through their “item to item collaborative filtering” feature. This was followed by Omni Channel Optimization. Now, the latest trend is Predictive Personalization and 1:1 Personalization. It is the cutting-edge strategy of factoring in different criteria into the recommendation engine and building a personalized bundle for every single customer. However, many companies are still making in roads and not there at the deeply personalized 1:1 layer yet.

Personalization Evolution Curve

Personalization is a very powerful innovation and it has come to stay. From discount coupons, search results, streaming content to complementary products, everything has been empowered by personalization strategies. But one industry, where personalization could see the most promising growth is the Fashion sphere.

Of all the forms of expression, our fashion is the most intimate, liberating and powerful choice of self-expression. Fashion makes us feel more confident, empowered and connected to who we truly are inside. We wear things that represent our personality and match our changing tastes, moods, impulses and identity.

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

As designer Rachel Zoe rightly quotes, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

Sometimes our fashion choices tell more about us than we share about ourselves. Also, fashion is an inspiration. It helps us get inspired in unique, creative ways and inspire others with our sense of style. Hence, we can confidently say that our fashion is more personal, emotional, intimate and deep-seated than we can understand. Unfortunately, it is that one area that is often ignored and misunderstood because individuals and enterprises look at it superficially, just as another routine choice but not as something that might represent our character and spirit.

The way companies operate is changing as rapidly as the shoppers’ choices. Enterprises have clearly become more empathetic and receptive of what customers’ choices and objections are. They have realized Fashion to be an invaluable tool and now that combined with millions of rows of customer, product, order and experience data, companies are now fast moving to reach a level where they can distinguish offers, services and products for every single customer. It is also becoming multi-disciplined with companies targeting to apply personalization to different topics including customer experience, customer service, product offerings, e-mail marketing, product features, push notifications and likewise.

When it comes to Fashion, every person wants to feel unique, creative and in ownership of their choice. There are only two ways to enable a customer to be that. Either by fulfilling the on-demand market by curating choices based on personal preferences of every customer instead of customer segments. The other option is to dig deeper and empower customers to be the master of their creation.

Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

Why don’t companies give customers the ability to create their own personalized garments at a fast-enough pace and scale it well? A way companies can achieve that is to possibly create their own catalog of fashion products and let the customers personalize to their individual tastes against parameters such as size, color, material, pattern, styling, etc. This type of business model can help companies generate products at unprecedented pace and speed as customers order their goods. There are endless opportunities for personalization in Fashion. For example, if shoppers are searching for business attire on the e-commerce website, you can personalize the experience by displaying complimentary accessories that match the attire to generate a personalized ensemble look based on that individual customer preferences. This is one of the many options that companies can take to their advantage to get closer to customers.

Unfortunately not everything gets executed as it is conceived. Luxury and Fashion companies have been notoriously known to be slow at adapting to technologies and machine learning. It is no different with Personalization since Fashion brands have always been focused on broadcasting their communication and emotionally connecting with people rather than employing modern technologies. Unfortunately, Fashion brands have not ventured further beyond segmentation strategies. It is high time Fashion Retailers keep up with technology by not just enhancing the transactional experience, but through differentiation. Not just differentiating between groups of customers, but distinguishing every single individual customer from one another. As data becomes more and more accessible, Fashion brands should start exploring every granular layer and detail of the customer journey and shopping experience to personalize offerings, discounts, coupons, attires, styles, content and marketing messages at a 1:1 level.


Photo by Hipster Mum on Unsplash

Hyper-Personalization is the future of everything Fashion. By leveraging real-time data and Artificial Intelligence, brands will be able to supply more customized and unique products, content and service information to each customer. This hands over the ultimate power back to customers and empowers them to create their own merchandise, thereby giving them the absolute buying power at every layer of shopping experience.

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Nikhila Bakurupanda
Nikhila "Nikki" has been ghost writing for writing-challenged clients, highlighting how their data-driven strategies impacted their business decisions. Her articles have appeared in Medium and few internal publications and newsletters. She is currently on a gap year in Spain, travelling 13+ countries, learning foreign languages, and exploring global cuisines and cultures. Prior, she worked as Project Lead for large-scale digital transformation projects within Fortune 500 and E-commerce companies. She provides a holistic combination of technology and strategy consulting, product ownership, stakeholder management and project management guidance. She also worked with brand identity, digital marketing, market research teams of Disney, CBS and Fox Studios in Hollywood. Nikhila, a Carnegie Mellon grad, is passionate about writing futuristic articles around business leadership, data science, growth marketing, organizational behavior, process modelling, agile planning and project management. Her key passion is exploring the realm of data-driven personalization. She loves learning how data can be used to know enough about customers for delivering the right content and value at the right time. As this area continues to grow in effectiveness, she is excited to write about building specific and targeted strategies in the spheres of entertainment, retail, fashion for their digital marketing and product/service assortment efforts.


  1. Dear Nikhila. Thanks for article. Interesting and right – and also aligned with my own interests and research. Would you be so kind to read of my DDI articles and assess whether Cool Hunting with us as science of the time is an idea that fits you? Look forward to hear from you. We just ended a Cool hunt on Cool Tech & Fashion, and we will continue. Which is why I approach you here. Warm regards. Prof. dr Carl Rohde

    • Hi Prof. Carl Rohde, happy to go through your DDI articles. I will also take a look at your Cool Hunt brochure and looking forward to chatting more with you.

    • Hi Professor, how do I reach out to you to discuss further? Is there an e-mail address or a contact submission form that I can fill out?

  2. Hi Nikhila, Agree with your points in this article. I like the idea that companies can recommend outfits and accessories for customers to differentiate. However, how do you imagine apparel companies dealing with MOQ problems that would result from changing fabrics, as an example? Just curious if you are aware of anyone doing this with a manufacturing method that makes sense for minimums. Thanks!

  3. Hi Cynthia, thanks for reading this and taking the time to comment. A very valid point that I often think about but I have to admit I need to educate myself better about the depths of scaling the fashion personalization idea. Nailing the concept of scalability is my biggest challenge too. I will need to read, analyze and understand better about how to customize the business at an individual level, yet at the same time meet the MOQ criteria. For now, all I can think about is 3D printing as a possible solution. Traditional manufacturing methods might not work. Even if they could, they would have to be reengineered completely to suit the innovativeness of this idea. Happy to hear out any thoughts, analysis or suggestions you might have.


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