The Man & The Machine: Fashion in an Age of Technology
Mark Stibbe
Here at GroupBy we are technology geeks. The team is made up of both enthusiasts and experts, and we love learning what futurists predict about what comes next. Technology is constantly changing and evolving, finding its way into our lives in new and innovative ways.  Whether we are reconnecting with friends from our childhood through social media, or asking Google how to fix a faucet, humans and machines are learning how to work together harmoniously.   The intersection of man and machine teaming together is one of the reasons we are so excited to be working at GroupBy. It’s a paradigm shift in e-commerce that is setting the pace for future technologies, and the trend is already making its mark.  These Harvard Business Review articles discuss going “beyond automation” and, as Accenture pointed out in 2015, the vision for employment will become reliant on the side-by-side collaboration of intelligent machines and human talent. Recently, there was a story on NPR covering Andrew Bolton, curator for the Metropolitan Museum's Costume Institute.  Bolton is pushing the boundaries of the fashion world in a new exhibition (sponsored by Apple) called “Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.” This Vogue article interviews Bolton and it’s fascinating how excited he was to explore the impact machines had already had on high fashion. In discussing his inspiration, he recalled seeing a few beautiful pieces that were executed using both hand and machine: “I began thinking that, in actual fact, the gap between high-end ready-to-wear and couture is getting smaller.” He went on to explain (in what would be my favorite quote) that “technology could enable us to radicalize the definition of what fashion means.” While everyone is not a  high fashion enthusiast, you may recognize designers like Yves Saint Laurent and Chanel in his collection. More importantly though, is recognizing that the teaming of humans and machines combines the strength of each, unlocking new and exciting ways to run business, whether you are Accenture, a couture fashion designer, or a big brand furniture retailer. So, how does this tie back to what we’re doing? At GroupBy we bring together cutting-edge technology, data science, and human curators to create product data optimized for e-commerce at unprecedented speed and quality. The results help retailers from haute couture to fast fashion alike keep their product data up to trend with the ever changing preferences of shoppers online.  It’s analogous but exciting to hear thought leaders like Andrew Bolton discuss the impact of the very thing we’re working hard to perfect. We are just starting to scratch the surface on what’s possible.  From couture to couches, the future for the man and the machine in e-commerce is bright.