MILAN — Yoox is today unveiling its own brand, called 8 by Yoox, which is driven by artificial intelligence. The collection of essentials launches with the fall season and will be followed in January by the spring collection.
“As a group, we have one billion people visit our platform and the amount of data is really amazing — we know what the Russians favor and that’s different from what the Japanese want and that’s different from what the Chinese, the Canadians and the Sicilians want,” Yoox Net-a-porter Group chief executive officer Federico Marchetti told WWD.
The information is fed into an algorithm prepared by the group’s Research and Development sector, explained Marchetti, which “puts together all the trends generated by customers, as well as data from social media, Twitter trends and hashtags, mixing words, images and colors. The machine blends this data from clients and from the outside world and it produces a mood board, then the team interprets and defines what customers would like. These are products made by our customer and for our customers.”
Marchetti emphasized how “the enormous quantity of data and the sophisticated technology” is balanced by the human involvement. “There is a balance between man and machine, we would never produce items generated by data alone or by people only. It’s the combination of the two that make products we believe can be successful.” Asked if the brand could be defined as generated by crowdsourcing, Marchetti responded, “No, this is artificial intelligence applied on products.”
The executive insisted that Yoox is not launching a fashion line. “We have no ambition to be dubbed as fashion designers,” he said, underscoring that the collection will consist of easy-to-wear essentials for men and women. The first collection includes T-shirts, jackets, coats, dresses, trousers and sweaters, in line with the Yoox affordable price range and the customers’ favorite trends, sleeve lengths, neckline shapes, fabrics, textures and heel heights. “We are developing products with an underlying consistency because this is what customers want,” said Marchetti, adding the average core customer base of Yoox is aged between 25 and 45.
Marchetti said 8 by Yoox has been in the works for a while, as the technology was being developed, and has come to life after a soft launch and testing period. “We’ve seen excellent results, which have given us more confidence. This is the right moment [for the official unveiling], Yoox has come of age,” he said of the e-tailer, which he founded and launched in 2000. Asked if Mr P, the in-house collection launched by Mr Porter last year, was an influence in the conception of 8 by Yoox, Marchetti admitted that “surely, Mr P is another element boosting our confidence, but we treasure and share information, best practices, data and expertise within the group.”
Its name, 8 or “Otto” in Italian, “recalls the symbol of the infinite and the perpetual motion to symbolize the innovative research that sits behind its creation.” The design of the logo is a play on the “oo” of the Yoox moniker, which was chosen to represent the pairing of the binary code embraced by the Y and X of the male and female chromosomes. “The double ‘oo’ refers to a technology always in dialogue with humans and their craftsmanship and talent,” said Marchetti.
The entrepreneur conceded he did not know if this was the first time artificial intelligence was applied to fashion, but he did underscore that it was a unique proposition as Yoox is “a combination of fashion-savvy, very sophisticated customers,” whose indicators are “interpreted by a team of product development.”
While declining to provide estimated revenues to be generated by 8 by Yoox, Marchetti said the group was “thinking long-term, this is not a marketing ploy. We think big.”
In 2017, the multibrand, off-season business line, which includes Yoox and The Outnet, recorded sales of 789.6 million euros, a 13.3 percent rise compared with 2016. This channel accounted for 37.8 percent of total sales.
In January, Compagnie Financière Richemont SA launched a voluntary tender offer for all ordinary shares of the Yoox Net-a-porter Group SpA at 38 euros a share, for a value of up to 2.77 billion euros. Richemont’s plan was to acquire 51 percent of the YNAP shares it did not already own, valuing YNAP at about 5.3 billion euros.