Improving wardrobes with sociology and technology

Entrepreneur and academic helps revitalize closets based on life goals

Akbari gains a deep understanding of her client’s personal and professional goals through a series of online surveys and quizzes. Credit: Anna Akbari

Akbari gains a deep understanding of her clients’ personal and professional goals through a series of online surveys and quizzes. Credit: Anna Akbari

Entrepreneur Anna Akbari is taking her background in sociology into the world of fashion retail to help those who also think that presentation can make all the difference — at work and elsewhere.

Sociology is the study of human social behavior — it’s origins, development, organizations and institutions. According to Akbari, clothes possess immense sociological significance. Systems of dress are important identifiers for all cultures, and can therefore be powerful tools for individuals, defining the wearer’s relationship to the world around them both through how the garments make them feel and how they are perceived by society.

Akbari’s insurgence into a field that represents unchartered waters for most sociologists might be happening one virtual closet consultation at a time. But if her approach catches on, its cumulative effect may ultimately revolutionize how people think about clothes and fill their closets.

What makes Akbari unique isn’t her keen eye for trends or killer fashion sense, but her ability to use her academic background to analyze her client’s most essential closet truths. Although these deep dives into the wardrobes of strangers may seem intimately personal, Akbari relies on technology to run her business every step of the way — from gathering client details at the outset to rushing orders for blouses.

Modern methodology

Akbari gains a deep understanding of her client’s personal and professional goals through a series of online surveys and quizzes, and then works towards a system of wardrobe uniformity. It’s better to create a formula based on one’s objectives in life, and then develop a strategy going forward, she said.

Akbari previously conducted consultations in person, but now her business is 50 percent virtual. Geographical barriers break down with most consultations occurring over platforms like Skype. The major technological advantage is convenience for the client and allowing for Akbari’s sociological method to reach a wider audience.

Online shopping, meanwhile, greatly increases efficiency, selection and accuracy, allowing Akbari to browse many more items than she could if shopping in person. Lenient return policies and free shipping practices adopted by most online retailers allow Akbari to bring the store to her clients with a click. She says that most happily skip the in-person shopping experience, finding stores to be “chaotic and unpleasant.”

Akbari’s services come at a price, but she contends that her clients wind up saving money because they cease making “mindless purchases that don’t serve them.”

The first step is letting go

Akbari helps with a full closet overhaul after clients complete the online surveys and quizzes. She often suggests that clients tailor or rethink some of their existing clothes to help with the stress of getting rid of sentimental items.

Clients may wind up holding onto only one-tenth of the clothes they previously owned — and Akbari says that’s okay as “it’s better to have less stuff than to have 50 things that you bought on sale that don’t work together.”

She then works with clients to generate a detailed wish list of potential items that are needed to fill wardrobe gaps. This is followed by online shopping with virtual consultations when the packages are delivered.

Clients are left not only with a refreshed wardrobe but also “a personal style report,” which includes sizes, colors, everyday tips and even care instructions.

Akbari has developed a broad client base, including men who disdain traditional shopping and women approaching their senior years who want to maintain a modern look in the workplace.

My algorithm picked it out

It’s not hard to find an assortment of clothing tailored to your demographic if you search online for curated shopping sites.

Some believe that computers could soon replace Akbari’s services. Data scientists and technologists are working hard to produce the algorithms they would need to make this happen, but Akbari believes we are still years away from a computer being able to pick up on the nuances that she can.

The human element in this field, at least, has yet to be replicated.

Greta Braddock
Greta Braddock brings years of fashion industry experience, including product design, trend forecasting and inventory management to her role as a writer for Tech Page One. Her work has been featured on
Greta Braddock
Greta Braddock
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