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A Better Way to Clothe Yourself


Malls and big box stores are beginning to look like a relic of the past. Retail is getting an overhaul, as companies are figuring out that, by peddling their goods online, they can save on real estate costs and give their customers the flexibility to shop whenever they feel so inclined.

Companies like Frank & Oak and UsTrendy work to “curate” a wardrobe for you; an algorithm becomes your personal stylist. Other innovative companies like Indochino and Mantorii make it possible to order bespoke suits, shirts, and shoes online. Send them your measurements, pay them their money, and receive your custom product by mail. If it doesn’t fit, send it back for alterations, or in the case of Indochino, take it to a tailor and have them fix it—Indochino will pick up the tab (up to $75). Warby Parker, which is taking the the eyeglass industry by storm, sends you five pairs of glasses to try on; after a few days you pick the one you like best and send the rest back.

This is convenient for the consumer, and an example of the kinds of innovation that will make up the transition to a post-industrial economy. The manipulation of information is replacing the making of “things” as the primary driver of our economy. As this shift happens, the old ways of doing business are going to change. We’re already seeing companies like Amazon move into programs like grocery delivery; the retail industry is changing as well. That’s good news for forward-thinking entrepreneurs and consumers alike.

[Shirts image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • Anthony

    Ok folks, here is something to think about.

    No more retail workers, because people can just buy stuff online. No more truck, taxi,
    or limo drivers, since those vehicles will be driven by computers (btw:four million Americans make their living in these jobs at present) No more doctors and pharmacists – at least in the distant future – since
    computers will diagnose disease and prescribe medication. No more
    factory workers in America, since they will either be replaced by robots or low wage workers in other countries. A lot less lawyers, since only a small number of people will have the money to hire one, even if they have a serious problem. A massive reduction in university faculty, since MOOC can provide a lot of the teaching that used to be done by
    humans. No more professional stock/commodities traders, since trading
    is done by computers.

    Some people think STEM jobs
    are safe, but that might not be the case if corporate America gets it’s way and is able to drive down wages by bringing in cheaper engineers from abroad – and they might just outsource tech jobs to India if the h1b extension fails.

    What are people going to do? Are we
    really going to see a future where the person that used to be your family doctor or accountant is now working as a maid or a bar tender? And this leads to a second question: who is going to be able to afford
    to have their house cleaned by maid or buy drinks at a bar?

    • Corlyss

      Well, if we end up with all those people surplused, we really will be in trouble. But it’s hard to see how current upheavals will work themselves out. It’s a certainty that we can’t preserve the present, or even the recent past, in amber. IMO its a big mistake to attempt control of the endgame because we aren’t that smart. You can see the government stepping in with all these safety net programs to stop the inevitable. All that’s doing is hastening our fiscal and moral bankruptcy. Government needs to get out of the way.

      • Anthony

        You are correct: we really will be in trouble. If self driving vehicles become the norm, four million people will become unemployed. There is no way in heck that our anemic economy can absorb that many people.

        If middle aged doctors get replaced by computers, are they going to go back to university and get another degree? That would be pretty funny: dad, the laid of doctor, in class with his eighteen year old kid.

  • Anthony

    The trope Corporate Revolution was used to describe the economic transformation at the turn of the last century; now we have IT Revolution generating economic transformation at turn of this century – at bottom America will be all right.

  • Corlyss

    I listened to the discussion about taxing internet purchases and the latter’s role in 1) revenue decline; 2) infrastructure decline; 3) loss of a sense of community and civility. I suppose eventually internet will be blamed for acne. One of the arguments for taxing was that local stores lost business BECAUSE they had to charge taxes. I can’t think of a more ridiculous excuse. I live in an area emerging from rurality to bedroomcommunity-ness. I’d have to drive 40 mi. to find the kind of selection I can online, and selection would be a lead pipe cinch only if I shopped at a chain store. Why should I? Local merchants don’t carry what I want. Online is my only choice. I’d be more sympathetic in an large coastal urban area, but not in a relatively agricultural one.

  • Daniel Nylen

    It sounds like most of the commenters below want to outlaw farm equipment to keep unemployment low! If we develop a way where we do not need drivers, salesman, or doctors and still have the same or equivalent services, the economy is better off– much better off. The displaced workers can or will find other productive things to do and the economy as a whole grows as they find other things to do. Think progress or would you rather sit there and use your abacuss instead of a calculator or computer spreadsheet?

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