The fashion industry always wants to know about the next big thing, so Julia Fowler thinks it should take a closer look at the world’s financial markets.
Just as old-style traders have been all but replaced by analysts crunching vast amounts of data, Ms. Fowler said she believed that understanding fashion trends should be less about intuition and more about real or near-real time information.
Trained as a designer, Ms. Fowler established the fashion forecasting business Editd in 2009 with Geoff Watts, a programmer with a background in financial modeling. “Industries like the financial sector have used big data for many years,” she said. “The logical step for us was to apply a scientific approach to the apparel industry.”
Editd has 22 employees at its office in the Silicon Roundabout, an area of East London now known as a hub for tech innovation. Each work day Editd’s software gathers online information for a huge variety of garments and accessories and amasses 300,000 comments from social media ranging from what’s on store racks to indications about how long the passion for leopard print will last.
The information is transformed into data, compiled and repackaged into analyses that illustrate competitors’ product assortments, pricing, consumer mood and emerging trends for clients that include Asos, Gap and Target. (Editd’s fees begin at $2,500 a month for a small retailer in a single market, but rise sharply for larger clients who want more complex services.)