No idea if Brooks plans to retro-innovate and reintroduce the styles and fabrics from the pre-’87 era, but it is taking a bold step forward with artificial intelligence. Multiple news sources reported today on a press conference Brooks gave yesterday, in which it claimed it will be the first to implement an end-to-end AI-powered platform.
“The trend that’s becoming visible in the industry is better customization and a more personalized approach with consumers,” Brooks Brothers chairman and CEO Claudio Del Vecchio said in an exclusive interview. “Fashion is by definition changing. All the changes are happening faster. The ability to react faster is becoming more important. … Company-directed marketing is much less effective. … We need to predict what customers want. AI is the solution.”
Del Vecchio, whose father is the founder of the Italian eyewear giant Luxottica and who bought Brooks Brothers in 2001 from British retailer Marks Spencer, knows the importance of keeping Brooks Brothers in tune with customer demands. He bought the company when it was in decline, after lesser merchandise quality had alienated its core customers. He acknowledges that in recent years Brooks Brothers hasn’t been immune to the changing consumer behaviors that have blindsided the fashion industry and led to store closings and declining sales at retailers including Macy’s and rivals including Ralph Lauren.
“We got caught by the same storm as everybody else,” Del Vecchiotold me. “The biggest surprise (for the industry) is the speed at which the transformation happens and the way the customers shop. … As an industry, we went from opening another store to closing another store.”
And speaking of innovation:
Attracting millennials as shoppers also involves putting them in management positions. The company has named a 27-year-old as its head of stores, the 61-year-old Del Vecchio told me.
“We rely a lot on younger people,” he said. “We call it reverse mentoring. We used to mentor them. Now those kids tell us what to do.”
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Robot tie via here.
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