Predictive Analytics: The ‘Weatherization’ of Fashion

The Wall Street Journal: “FIT, one of the largest and best-known fashion schools … this semester launched a new, 15-week course called ‘Predictive Analytics for Planning and Forecasting: Case Studies with Weatherization.’ The course, geared toward students interested in retail and merchandising careers, is part of a broad overhaul of FIT’s curriculum to include more topical business issues, and weather is a prime one.”

“Weather fluctuations have increasingly been putting fashion designers and clothing retailers on the defensive. Merchandise is often ordered months in advance based on what the weather typically is at that time of year. But when temperatures are different from what was predicted—milder-than-usual winters, cold springs or otherwise inconsistent weather—clothes that are all wrong for the climate stay on racks and get discounted, hurting sales.”

“At FIT, the predictive class is advanced, with terms like ‘linear regression’ … freely tossed out. Charts, graphs, equations and formulas are scribbled on white boards as students follow the lesson and plug numbers into Excel spreadsheets … In one exercise, students worked to forecast which weeks a retailer in Chicago would have to stock more fleece by incorporating weather data into their calculations.”


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