3 questions for Aurélie Jean
Doctor in science and entrepreneure

Three questions for Aurélie Jean

Entrepreneur Aurélie Jean holds a doctorate in science, and her 2019 book “On the Other Side of the Machine: Journey of a Scientist in the Country of the Algorithms” was an immense success.

Her book “Do Algorithms Make the Law?” published by Les Editions de l’Observatoire in 2021 will be available in paperback on 15 February. So it’s a great time to interview this expert on how to master the algorithms she knows so well, especially in the fashion industry.

Are algorithms impossible to understand? 

According to our abilities, we can understand everything: what algorithms are, what they do for us, and what we should pay attention to. Without going into mathematical details, we can acquire an overall understanding. That’s what I try to do through my articles and books. It’s a victory for me when someone tells me that reading my books has made them smarter. We are too inclined to underestimate peoples’ intelligence. If you don’t understand a concept, maybe the person you’re talking to – or the author of a book or article –doesn’t know how to explain things! 

How can we better understand algorithms, and how can they be useful, especially for fashion brands? 

You have to understand the how and why of algorithms, what kind of data or information they use, and what kind of results they supply. For example, when you visit a fashion brand’s retail website, an algorithm might suggest you look at a particular jacket based on data about clothing you’ve looked at or bought or on information from your profile (such as gender and age). Algorithms can help fashion brands with their production chains by minimising accidents, fabric waste, and even water use. For the online experience, they can provide better understanding of clients. They’re also useful for creating future fashion collections and improving logistics for placing stock in different retail locations, thanks to better sales forecasting. 

How far can fashion brands go with algorithms? 

It’s hard to know. But I’d say that in the creative sphere, brands can also use them on social and traditional media. Algorithms can automatically pre-identify new designers, the next stars or, to put it more simply, talents that match their values or signature. There are enormous possibilities, even in designing new prints. Creative directors and designers can get help from algorithmic science to free up their creativity!