The Importance of Empathy in Fashion Product Attribution

Fashion is a powerful form of self-expression, but if the shopper can’t find what they’re actually looking for, the retailer is going to fall flat. One of the best ways to combat this is by recognizing the importance of empathy in fashion product attribution.

Let’s be honest, the experience of shopping and looking for that new outfit has not always been one that drives empathy or helps shoppers to feel their best, especially women. 

In fact, according to a survey conducted by Glamour, women in the United States, on average, experience 13 negative thoughts about their body every single day. While the National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW), found that by the age of 13, 53% of American girls are “unhappy with their bodies.” This grows to 78% by the time girls reach 17. And these statistics do not dissipate over time, as by the age 60, 28.7% of women still report feeling “dissatisfied,” while 32.6% still feel “self-conscious” about their bodies.

Although shoppers are constantly bombarded with societal pressures and expectations of how they “should look” and “should dress,” finding the right item of clothing that actually makes them “feel good” in their own skin can make all the difference.

The Significance of Fashion 

Fashion is powerful and it’s significant. There truly is endless power in the outfit that someone puts together and chooses to wear. It can allow the shopper to express themselves in whichever way they see fit (as long as the item is the right size). But despite the fact that fashion is often seen as a form of self expression and individuality, it can be hard for shoppers to feel confident and highlight who they are and what they want to show the world when they don’t feel good in their clothing, or feel like it fits their body and style well. 

The magic of fashion, however, is a game changer. When a shopper can actually find the right item of clothing that fits their bodies as intended and makes them feel good about themselves, it’s much more likely that not only the self-confidence of the shopper will strengthen, but the number of conversions and customer loyalty will also strengthen for the retailer selling the clothing. 

The Shopping Journey

There are so many varieties and versions of fashions out there, especially for women. From dresses, to co-ords, to skirts, pants, blazers, and jumpsuits—there are such a variety of options for shoppers to pick and choose from that it’s no surprise it can often feel overwhelming, and hardly ever personal. According to Incisiv and Adobe, only 52% of retailers in North America choose to personalize more than half of the shopper journey. This undoubtedly makes it hard for shoppers to actually find what they’re looking for. 

It can be difficult to know where to start.  Even if the shopper finds one item of clothing that flatters their body and style, how can they find that second item of clothing that does the same, or the third full-circle piece? How can a shopper find what makes them feel their best if the retailer’s inventory of products doesn’t tailor to what they genuinely like and what works for them personally? It’s a complex slope that is likely to slide if not handled correctly and can result in unsatisfied customers and a lack of shopper loyalty. 

Product Attributes and the Language of the Customer  

There are also a large number of ways to describe or attribute items of clothing. Think of it this way: what one shopper may refer to as a “loose dress,” the other may refer to as a “sundress.” In order to find success, the language used in fashion product attribution really needs to capture all the ways that a product can be defined or searched for, including taking occasions into account. For example, a “New Year’s Eve” dress or a “Mother of the Bride” dress. If the voice of fashion cannot capture the right terminology then a retailer is utterly voiceless. 

To find the correct voice, the answer really does lie in the language of the consumer – not the language of generic, legacy product attributes. Speaking in the language of customers, rather than that coming from out-of-the-box product attribution data, has hugely beneficial ramifications across the entire retail value chain. A product with two to three attributes prior can, through visual, AI-driven tagging and a carefully-designed taxonomy, immediately unlock its sales potential to become a product with 10 to 15 attributes.


Today’s e-commerce stack is overflowing with bad guesses about shoppers that lead to low conversion rates, high return rates, and a cascading amount of unsold inventory. Customers want a shopping experience that shows that a retailer knows and understands who they are as a person

To make this vision a reality, this requires an understanding of not just purchasing patterns and basic demographics — but an understanding of a shopper’s underlying psychology and why they purchase what they purchase, which is an entirely different challenge in and of itself. Shoppers today don’t just want recommendations based on colors or sizes. Product recommendations must reflect customers’ genuine preferences and affinities. At the end of the day, they want to feel like you “get them.”

Empathy in Fashion Product Attribution 

When female shoppers share their feelings about why they buy the clothes they buy, it’s clear that brands that are loved have focused on making an emotional connection with their users. By utilizing emotional intelligence with artificial intelligence (AI), retailers can better understand a shopper’s psychology to more accurately predict what items of clothing are going to make them feel good about themselves when they wear them.  

Learning about a customer based on how they engage with a website and the emotional context that drives their purchases would hands down not be possible without empathy. The value of empathy is truly irreplaceable and can make a significant difference in connecting with shoppers authentically. In order to help consumers find something they actually will want to wear – something they love and feel great in – a retailer needs to understand and empathize with why they love and feel great in it in order to recommend or better tailor similar search results so this end result can continue to happen. 

A culture of empathy in retail begins with not only having a deep understanding of, appreciation of, and the will to improve the shopping experience for every customer, it also begins with understanding the unique motivations, preferences, and needs that drive the search queries and decisions made by each shopper.

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Lily AI was started with the goal of helping shoppers to look and feel their very best, and has been built upon a core culture of empathy. Our mission is truly centered around supplying retailers with the robust product attribute data needed in order to help shoppers easily and accurately find what they're looking for, no matter how specialized or unique.
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Woman posing in a jumpsuit with earrings on a brown background.