A woman walks past a Lane Bryant store in San Jose, Calif. The so-called "plus-size" market (typically size 14 and up) has been an under-served opportunity for as long as I've been in retail. Historically there were some good reasons for this. Traditionally the main thing retailers optimized was physical space and inventory. Accordingly, the breadth and depth of the merchandise carried in a store would, more or less, follow a statistical distribution of sizes, adjusted by color ranges carried and constrained by inventory budgets and the literal store-by-store physical limitations of tables and racks.
At a time when our waste and our environmental impact is firmly under the spotlight, news in early July that fashion brand Burberry had burned almost £30m ($40m) of stock has caused outrage. The company admitted destroying the unsold clothes, accessories and perfume instead of selling it off cheaply, in order to protect the brand's exclusivity and value. It added that it had captured the energy from the burning to try and make the process more environmentally friendly. But how widespread is stock destruction at this level? Orsola de Castro is the co-founder and creative director of activist group Fashion Revolution, who lobby brands on production transparency.
Big data is changing the way designers create and market their clothing. The application of big data in the fashion industry is not only helping designers understand customer preferences but also assisting them to better market their products. The fashion industry appeals to everyone in the world on one level or another, but each item of clothing sells to different types of customers. Many industries have leveraged the power of big data and the fashion industry is the latest one to capitalise on the technology. The reason for industrial success with big data is the generation and assimilation of data high on volume, veracity, and variety.