(long read, and a bit boring) 


There’s a guy I follow on my Twitter account (no, I’m never going to refer to it as “X”) who does commentary on men’s style, and today I read one of his tweets which said that AI would never be able to replace a human stylist, as a stylist knows about the society, culture, personality etc that the person belongs to and so is better able to pick an outfit for a person than AI which just churns out generic answers. He also said that of course what AI can’t do is answer the question “Who am I?”


Well, this got me thinking, as although I’m not an AI fatalist I am keeping up weekly with the progress of AI (lightning speed progress) and of course it is not the AI that has the advantage it’s the human who knows hot to utilise it. Here’s an example:

Firstly there’s a conflation between ChatGPT and AI. ChatGPT is just one program, that’s free to use and for everybody. Therefore of course the answers are generic. And even if it wasn’t, even the best stylist would still ask you many questions about yourself and take your measurements before making their suggestions. AI (the wider technology) could be used by a stylist for example to make their own program where the user pays a nominal amount to subscribe and the suggestions given are in the style of that stylist. Or the stylist could make their AI prohibitively expensive and/or only license it to people they want to have it. Or you could do both. A better example (that someone less fashion minded might relate to more) is for example a very famous and successful interior designer who works on large projects (luxury hotels, etc) may decide to release an AI programme where, “everyday” users looking to decorate their home could input the dimensions, and the AI would create the interior design plan of the famous interior designer they love, but don’t have access to. Let’s call the interior designer Sophie. Sophie’s interior design package could offer the user 30 different options for the space they wish to decorate and could further be monetised by product placement and so on. In fact, you might like a particular table lamp by an Italian designer, and you can either buy it directly through the program, or the AI can also scan the entire internet and show you similar alternative options at all price points. Whilst some people may only discover a side table they now see would look great in the hallway, or realise that shelves next to the television would be a good idea (as per the AI suggestion,) other users may decide to buy the entire interiors package that the AI has created- and within the coming weeks, the blank canvas of a new home becomes a gorgeous space in the style of your favourite interior designer with everything from cushions to beds and cutlery being taken care of in one purchase.


This subscription model will be somewhat limited by the fact that after most people have used the AI program and found ideas for the spare room, or kitted out their house, or ordered the kitchen they wanted etc etc, they will of course unsubscribe from the program. However what Sophie could also do is have a more expensive licensing package that other interior designers could pay to use. This would be a more detailed trade/industry centric package that would include suppliers, higher specification interiors and perhaps 500 potential design solutions as opposed to the 30 potential given on the consumer-level AI. To protect the value and exclusivity of this more expensive package, it could be limited to only 20 interior design houses in the world, and priced at something like £50,000 a year, with the license only being renewed by Sophies request at the end of the year. Having the package ads a lot of value to the interior design studio using it, and equates to £1M in revenue for Sophie. The £50,000 licence sounds like a lot but it isn’t in the schemes of big designers and houses. Top interior designer Kelly Wearsler charges $50,000 – $100,000 per event for her expertise, so you can only imagine what she would charge to consult. Access to Kelly’s design brain for a year at £50,000 is comparatively good value. In fact if the AI program was truly excellent or available to even less people, the license could easily command a higher price.


In this way AI is not replacing Sophie, it is expanding her reach (and her income!). I think the combination of human + AI is what’s most appealing and most marketable. Other new technology would be integrated (for a clothing stylist, perhaps your whole body could be scanned during the signing up process, and therefore the clothes suggested fit your stature perfectly) or the interior design tech would have the option of integrating a virtual reality headset (this already exists in some interior design showrooms), allowing you to walk through your new home, switching seamlessly between the 50 different possibilities. 


In recent years consumers appear to have rallied against the idea of “paying for information”, however there is a big difference between generic information, and information that is perfectly tailored to you, given by (or in the style of) someone who’s expertise you trust, or a creative who you admire. Many can’t afford a world leading stylist, Interior designer, or celebrity personal trainer, but they can afford a small(ish) subscription fee for a slice of the experience, that feels very much like the real experience. And crucially, particularly in the luxury market, no matter how many people are willing to hire Sophie, or indeed Kelly, she can only ever be in one place at a time. Until now. I also strongly dispute the idea that AI could never know someone better than they know themselves. Not a week goes by when I don’t get an add on Google for something I just thought about, or of a small obscure brand I’ve never heard of that suits my taste just perfectly. Think of all the people you know, who are in denial about something that you can see very clearly. I think it’s very possible to know or understand more of a person than they do of themselves, especially when it comes to shallow things like stylistic taste. I would guess that Google knows more about you than anyone, after all it’s the only one who knows you are here reading this. You only have to go to the same hotel or restaurant a handful of times before they can half know and half predict exactly what you want. It’s embarrassing almost, I scroll through Amazon and they’ve done a good job of picking out my favourite things, even if I’ve never ordered them before. And there I was thinking that I’m the only woman on earth who likes Chanel perfume, chocolate, and self help books 😤 


So anyway… that is my view of one of the many ways AI could be used to improve the lives of others and perhaps help creatives expand their reach. This is of course going to happen in the fun interim period between now and when it takes over and kills us all 🥳😂


Fortunately for my chosen side-hustle, I don’t predict the robot girlfriends are arriving any time soon*, so how about that dinner date?


Billie ❤️


* even if the robot girlfriends are arriving soon, I very much doubt they’d have the audacity to make one with a p**** as juicy as mine 😘