Algorithms and humans work in tandem at Thread, a company that could very well be the pioneer for the fashion tools of the future. The 500,000-users-strong clothing recommendation service currently focuses on menswear, but they are working to develop a version for women as well–because thanks to machine learning, they’re growing faster than ever.
Machine learning is a type of artificial intelligence that allows computers to constantly learn and adapt as they are exposed to new data, without the necessity for each step being explicitly programmed. They do this by detecting patterns in the data and changing their actions based on that information.
Thread is using machine learning to create an ultra-personalised fashion service for their customers. It’s like having your own personal stylist–but it’s not just accessible to the rich and famous, because this personal stylist is free.
CEO Kieran O’Neill, a 28-year-old serial entrepreneur who’s already built and sold two startups, explains, “The way it works is, you do a quiz on the site, we match you with a stylist, they’ll briefly review your information and put in some high-level information about what they think you would suit and things to avoid. And then the algorithm will go through the quarter-million products that our partners have and find the best ones for you based on the instructions from the stylist, and email them to you. You look at them and rate them and [the algorithm] learns based on that.”
This team effort–man and machine–is how Thread can serve half a million customers and counting…with an in-house team of only eight stylists and 10 in the tech department. Those numbers are fleshed out a little by the 50 freelance stylists who contribute, but still: Thread is a small company doing big things.