In 2018, the subject of artificial intelligence (AI) was not one that creative industries like fashion were fully familiar with. Yoox, however, was among the few preparing to enter these uncharted waters. It was during this time that the Italian fashion retailer launches its innovative fashion brand 8 by Yooxwho took the unknown and rooted it in the seams.
Fast forward to today, and the explosion of ChatGPT and other AI-powered platforms has sparked a digital revolution and shed light on different uses for this rapidly evolving technology. It also happens to be the year 8 by Yoox celebrates its fifth anniversary, a notable timestamp in the brand’s narrative and a time when it can look back on the developments that have helped define it.
Since the brand’s inception, 8 by Yoox has been guided by Yoox’s overarching philosophies, as noted by Valentina Visconti Prasca, Managing Director of Yoox, who told FashionUnited that the customer has always been at the heart of the business. Visconti added: “8 by Yoox represents the realization of more than 20 years of dialogue between us and our customers.”
A data-driven approach cements customer desire
While AI isn’t exactly the central pillar of 8 by Yoox, it was a technology the brand noticeably zoned in alongside its launch. It has also helped those lurking behind the scenes to determine market trends, analyzing and filtering Yoox data through human intervention. Commenting on this, Visconti said: “Over the years, we continue to study what our consumers are looking for and develop 8 by Yoox keeping in mind the tastes and needs of our customers, while remaining true to our DNA: contemporary essentials with Italian design, versatility and accessible quality.
The brand’s final production therefore varies for each launch and gives a subtle nod to consumer preferences for the season in question. It is Project “Tales from Africa”, for example, unveiled in April 2022, was dedicated to artisanal and African culture, with six different designers from the African continent selected to participate in the design of different capsules. The theme had been developed around what the brand said at the time was a growing urge to become a more inclusive platform that gave voice to global talent.
Such a mission is further reflected in what Visconti defines as 8 by Yoox’s consumer, a group organized by both its data-driven approach and its creative team. Visconti ultimately considered this troupe the “rising generation” and noted that their response to collections resulted in a “very low return rate”. She added, “Gen Z and Millennials want to connect with more conscious, sustainable and inclusive brands that share and support their values. With 8 by Yoox, we are working in this direction both on our seasonal collections, but also on the special capsule collections.
While many fashion brands have seemingly balked at the advancement of AI, it seems that for 8 by Yoox, the combination of values, data and style has only strengthened those behind them, offering proof that the creativity of humans can in fact be combined and enhanced with the use of such technology.
The use of AI has not been particularly exclusive to the brand. At the end of 2018, for example, Yoox unveiled a AI-powered virtual styling suite, YooxMirror. Similarly, aimed at younger buyers, the platform allowed users to browse the Yoox catalog in an interactive setting, with each piece modeled by an avatar who also guided the process. Yoox said it is now focused on bringing new innovations to market that seek to further improve the online customer experience.
All private label products must align with sustainability principles by 2025
Another area where 8 by Yoox excels is in sustainability, according to Visconti. That’s no surprise, as Yoox itself has a reputation for accelerating its own sustainable practices across its business, as evidenced by its achievements in becoming one of the first retailers to implement recycled packaging and, in 2009, launching a dedicated platform for low-impact collections with sustainable credentials, dubbed Yooxygen.
These are the qualities that Visconti hopes to instill in 8 by Yoox. She continued, “Since these initiatives, we have been working to embed sustainability more deeply into our business and our 8 by Yoox label is the perfect testing ground for us. We are transitioning 8 by Yoox to prioritize more sustainable materials using the Infinity Product Guide, a comprehensive tool developed by Yoox Net-a-Porter to ensure that all of its private label products are aligned with the principles of sustainability and circularity by 2025.”
Such efforts are already present in the recent collections of 8 by Yoox. While “8 by Coco Capitán” was over 80% deadstock or organic cotton, Yoox’s SS23 “8 by the Sea” line saw 100% of its denim and jersey adhere to the aforementioned guide. In total, more than 50% of the collection aligned with these principles, according to Visconti.
And the push for sustainability didn’t stop there. In 2020, Yoox also integrated digital IDs across all 8 by Yoox ready-to-wear collections, providing customers with access to post-purchase product information, as well as care and style recommendations to ensure the longevity of items. This, among other factors, will continue to evolve, Visconti noted, alongside Yoox’s overall sustainability commitments. “The more than 20 years of data and information about our customers allow us to adapt the product to their needs and desires, to reduce waste in the production process and to prevent too many products from being put on the market.”
When asked what we can expect from 8 by Yoox in the near future, Visconti said, “As we design the collection to reflect our customers’ priorities and their preferred looks, we are also thinking about longevity. The new collection combines pieces that can appeal to those looking for current trends, complemented by styles designed to last in any wardrobe thanks to a clothing development approach, timeless and elegant shapes, good quality of fabrics.