Back in 2018, the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) was not a one creative industries such as fashion were entirely familiar with. Yoox, however, was among the few preparing to step into these unchartered waters. It was during this period that the Italian fashion retailer launched its innovative fashion brand 8 by Yoox, which took the unfamiliar and ingrained it into the seams.
Fast forward to today, and the explosion of ChatGPT and other AI-powered platforms has sparked a digital revolution and has brought to light different uses of this fast-moving technology. It also happens to be the year in which 8 by Yoox celebrates its fifth anniversary, a notable timestamp in the brand’s narrative and a one in which it can look back over the developments that have helped characterise it.
From the brand’s inception, 8 by Yoox has been led by Yoox’s overarching philosophies, as noted by Valentina Visconti Prasca, Yoox’s managing director, who told FashionUnited that the customer had always been at the company’s core. Visconti added: “8 by Yoox represents a realisation 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 to 8 by Yoox, it was a technology the brand noticeably zoned in on parallel to its launch. It has also helped those behind the scenes determine market trends, analysing and filtering data from Yoox through human input. Speaking on this, Visconti said: “Over the years we continue to study what our consumers are looking for, and develop 8 by Yoox with our customer’s tastes and needs top of mind, while remaining true to our DNA: contemporary essentials with Italian design, versatility, accessible quality.”
The final output of the brand therefore varies for each launch, and gives a subtle nod to consumer preferences for the particular season. Its ‘Tales of Africa’ project, 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 various capsules. The theme had been developed around what the brand said at the time was an increasing urge to become a more inclusive platform that gave a voice to global talents.
Such a mission is further reflected in who Visconti defines as 8 by Yoox’s consumer, a group curated through both its data-driven approach and creative team. Visconti ultimately deemed this troop as the “upcoming generation”, and noted that their response to collections could be seen in a “very low return rate”. She added: “Gen Z and millennials want to establish connections with more conscious, sustainable and inclusive brands that share and support their values. With 8 by Yoox, we are working in this direction on both our seasonal collections, but also on the special capsule collections.”
While many fashion brands have seemingly been hesitant towards AI’s progression, it appears that for 8 by Yoox, the combination of values, data and style have only empowered those behind it, 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. In late 2018, for example, Yoox unveiled an AI-powered virtual styling suite, YooxMirror. Similarly targeted towards younger shoppers, the platform allowed users to view the Yoox catalogue in an interactive setting, with each piece modelled by an avatar who also guided the process. Yoox said it was now focusing on bringing forward new innovations to the market that look to further enhance the online customer experience.
All private label products to align with sustainability principles by 2025
Another area in which 8 by Yoox excels is that of sustainability, according to Visconti. This is no surprise, as Yoox itself has a reputation for accelerating its own sustainable practices throughout the entirety of its business, as seen in its achievements of becoming one of the first retailers to establish recycled packaging and, in 2009, launch a platform dedicated to low-impact collections with sustainable credentials, dubbed Yooxygen.
These qualities are ones that Visconti hopes to instil into 8 by Yoox. She continued: “Since these initiatives, we’ve been working to embed sustainability more deeply across our business and our 8 by Yoox label is the perfect testing ground for us. We are transitioning 8 by Yoox to prioritise more sustainable materials with the help of the Infinity Product Guide, a comprehensive tool developed by Yoox Net-a-Porter to ensure that all its private label products are aligned to sustainability and circularity principles by 2025.”
Such efforts are already present in 8 by Yoox’s recent collections. While ‘8 by Coco Capitán’ consisted of over 80 percent deadstock materials or organic cotton, Yoox’s SS23 line ‘8 by the Sea’ saw 100 percent of its denim and jersey adhere to the aforementioned guide. In total, more than 50 percent of the collection aligned with these principles, according to Visconti.
And the sustainability push hasn’t stopped there. In 2020, Yoox also embedded Digital IDs across all of 8 by Yoox’s ready-to-wear collections, providing customers with access to information about the products post-purchase, as well as care and styling recommendations to ensure item longevity. This, among other factors, will continue to evolve, Visconti noted, alongside Yoox’s overall sustainability commitments. “The over 20 years of data and insights around our customers, allow us to tailor the product to their needs and their desires, reducing waste in the production process and preventing too much product from being placed on the market.”
When asked what can be expected from 8 by Yoox in the near future, Visconti said: “While we design the collection to mirror our customers’ priorities and their preferred looks, we are also thinking about longevity. The new collection combines pieces which may appeal to those looking for current trends, complemented with styles that are built to last in any wardrobe thanks to a sartorial development approach, timeless and elegant shapes, good quality of fabrics.”