“Why did you send me this stuff?”
As a client, when you sign up for Stitch Fix, the survey about your personal style asks about specific kinds of clothing or colors or fabrics you don't want to receive. What you might see next is the "Fix Preview," which shows you items that might show up in your Stitch Fix box and asks for your feedback on them. According to stylists, the algorithm often just picks up on keywords in these sentences without understanding context. If you tell the system that you don't want jeans, you may very well end up with multiple pairs of jeans in your Fix Preview."And sometimes our clients don't know that the algorithm is picking stuff," a stylist told Motherboard. "They'll respond, like, 'Why did you send me this stuff?'"
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"The algorithm was not trained well enough to take into account seasonality or where people live. It would just start pulling out like, a bunch of sweaters for someone who lives in Texas, or like 10 pairs of pants, or like 10 of the exact same shirt, or like 10 backpacks," Kara Calagera, who recently left her job at Stitch Fix over the schedule changes, told Motherboard. "It was just ridiculous, and then we would have to sit there and fix what the computer did. It was embarrassing, honestly."
"I don't have any work pants to send anyone."
Over on SFStylistSupport, a subreddit for Stitch Fix stylists to commiserate with each other, stylists publicly wonder whether the points system is designed to crunch more tasks into their limited hours. One stylist said they’d styled over 200 Fixes in a week but still didn’t meet their points goal. Another laid out how the points system increased their workload to the point where they burned out and eventually quit."In the past few months, I’d gotten so mentally burnt out and I thought it was just because I was over it, but in actuality, we were expected to do so much more work for the same amount of pay," the stylist wrote. "More Fixes also included more feedback to review, which always took way more time than was given if you actually wanted to do a thorough review and address issues."
"We have to sell Fixes, and we have like six to 13 minutes. We have, you know, time constraints and if it's not working, we can't do our jobs."
The broken backbone
One stylist who said they’d been reprimanded for leaving a negative comment was also told they were violating the Stitch Fix OS. They said their manager had been instructed to speak with them three separate times because their apology was deemed insufficient. Eventually they were told that further violations could lead to their firing.
"I have gotten in trouble many times for voicing my opinion.”
"I have gotten in trouble many times for voicing my opinion," Calagera said. "They'll delete your comment, like right away, on our internal intranet, and then you're getting an email from your boss and your boss's boss's boss that talks about how you have a meeting on Zoom. They basically reprimand you and say, 'Even if you feel it, you need to put it into a positive light.'"Stitch Fix told Motherboard that it has the ability to turn off comments or remove comments if stylists say that the tenor of the comments has turned hostile. Stitch Fix did not respond to questions about its workplace culture.On top of the changes to scheduling that prompted many stylists to take a $1,000 "voluntary exit" payment in exchange for signing an NDA, stylists at Stitch Fix were also told that any promotions are now "on pause." Previously, after a year stylists would be considered "senior" and given a one-dollar hourly raise. At this point, there’s no clear path to a promotion or raise for Stitch Fix stylists. Currently, stylists say that salaries are determined by ZIP code, and stylists who spoke to Motherboard said they make between $15 and $16 an hour. To order a box from Stitch Fix, clients pay a non-refundable $20 as a "stylist fee." But stylists say they don't know where that money goes, and many of them make less than that per hour."Most of us make less than the styling fee," one stylist told Motherboard. "There's some stylists who are senior, and they've been there for a while. I think I saw someone say they make like $18.""We are called the backbone of the company, the heartbeat of the company," the stylist continued. "But you don't deserve a living wage and you don't deserve, you know, actual hours when we say you have to be available for 20."
"Most of us make less than the styling fee.”