Rent the Runway subscribers will soon be able to search items using terms like ‘Miami vibes’ or ‘clam bake in Nantucket’

The fashion subscription service is testing an AI search function to bolster its business as fashion increasingly adopts AI.
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· 3 min read

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Artificial intelligence in fashion has been a running theme over the past year, as more brands incorporate the tech into their biz models. There’s a whole damn AI fashion week now, let’s not forget.

Now, subscription fashion service Rent the Runway is betting on it too. After an overhaul and cost-cutting measures last year, the rental company aims to improve its range of offerings this year, offering users more looks and a text-based concierge service, WWD reported.

The central focus of these efforts is to make renting clothes smoother, all with the help of an AI-powered search function Rent the Runway will be testing over the next few weeks “to make the process of discovering products more intuitive and natural.”

The company claims to have a large and unique data set on its customers that it can employ in bolstering the AI search, allowing shoppers to search for items on its site not just with generic terms like “black dress,” but also very specific phrases like “Miami vibes” or “clam bake in Nantucket,” Jennifer Hyman, CEO and co-founder of Rent the Runway, told WWD.

“It is the biggest thing to happen to consumer-facing businesses since the launch of the iPhone. You’re either going to be a beneficiary of AI as a consumer-facing company or you’re going to die because of AI. Fashion overall is going to benefit,” Hyman said.

Easygoing: The point, per Hyman, is that it will make all the “cumbersome” processes of shopping for clothes online easier. And she is not alone in chasing that mission.

The design world is innovating to make functions like cutting and sewing less tiresome. Take Ditto, a sewing tech firm, for instance, that combines algorithmic intelligence with digital projection to make patterns paperless, customizable, and adaptable to specific body measurements.

While tech like Ditto is in its nascent stages, the long-term benefit of incorporating AI into fashion is ultimately to help create things at a faster pace and, as Hyman put it, to make it less cumbersome.“

“AI can help a lot in terms of speeding up the amount of time or reducing the amount of time that it takes to do a lot of manual entry,” Brian Ehrig, a partner in the consumer practice of management consulting firm Kearney, previously told Retail Brew. “Companies spend tons of time on that, and there are actually very talented and highly paid people doing that kind of thing. So there’s absolutely a business case to do more functional and operational AI to take mundane tasks off people’s plates and let them focus on the most important ones.”

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