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Skip the Front Row. Watson is Fashion’s Latest Trend Forecaster.

IBM’s latest innovations could help designers execute upcoming trends in today’s instant-fashion landscape.

The international tech company used its cognitive technology, Watson, to analyze hundreds of New York Fashion Week runway images and to formulate trend reports, including key Fall 2017 color palettes. With Watson, designers have a tool that allows them to seamlessly predict consumers’ style needs for future seasons.

For traditional trend forecasting, fashion experts would attend multiple shows each season to observe pieces on the runway and develop a subjective opinion of upcoming trends. Although this method provides opinion diversity, fashion experts can’t attend every single show. In partnership with Women’s Wear Daily, Watson analyzed 467 images from 12 Fall 2017 shows. It’s data-driven process allowed it to deliver trend reports that could be used to create more precise fashion forecasts and, potentially, better selling collections.

Using image segmentation algorithms and a combination of body pose detection for each runway image, Watson provided the dominate color palette in an image almost instantaneously. IBM then evaluated all the fashion week fashion images to determine that earth tones were a dominant color palette for the 2017 season in less than an hour. In a day’s time, Watson could potentially determine insights from every fashion show worldwide.

The data can also show the similarities between designers and how they influence each other.

IBM Research is also developing another cognitive fashion agent that can analyze today’s fashion trends from many resources, including blogs, images, magazines and social media, and predict upcoming fashion trends.

Designers and product developers could interpret macro trends with this analysis. Local fashion houses could use the agent to make trending runway looks adaptable for local audiences. Fashion merchandisers could make better buys after major runway shows. Lastly, e-commerce sites would know what to post on their homepages, how to create head-to-toe inspirational looks and provide better search results for consumer queries.

With the help of cognitive technology, the industry could have a more accurate look at what’s happening in the market, what consumers want and the garments they should design, all within a shorter timeframe.