Figuring out what to wear is such a drag that some smart people don what amounts to a uniform each day. Steve Jobs did it, Dean Kamen does it. This woman did it.
It’s not just choosing what to wear, but knowing your own clothing inventory. How many times have you discovered an item that you totally forgot about until you found it squished against the wall, suffocating under the weight of all the clothes you can see, but only infrequently wear?
“A millennial woman will spend $250,000 to $300,000,” on clothes over her lifetime says Whitney Casey, founder and CEO of Finery, a new site launching later this month that aims to be a personal clothing inventory, management, ensemble-selection and shopping service.
Despite the finances involved in their wardrobes, she notes, most people are only wearing 20% of their available wardrobe, which translates into trillions of dollars in unworn outfits hanging in closets everywhere.
Finery, which is currently only for women (children’s clothes are next, followed by men’s clothing), gets to know you, your closet and clothing and style preferences by scanning through every online clothing purchase you’ve ever made.
“Anything over 20% online clothes shopping is enough to gain value.”
The company is patenting technology that can, with your permission, scan through the email account that you use to do most of your online shopping (you can select more than one) and find all your clothing purchases. It will not, Casey promises, ask you for your email password.
The site has already lined up more than 500 retailers (which accounts for over 10,000 brands) who are sharing their data with them. Patent-pending technology parses through the existing product databases and matches it up with the information on the receipt. It also looks at other details included in the receipt emails like product images, which will help Finery pick up color, style, and other details.
Depending on how well the system does its job, a crisp-clean replica of your clothing item should appear in your account (Casey claims a 93% accuracy rate).
The site will use that information to recommend outfits, find clothing redundancies and help you return outfits you don’t want. There’ll even been a countdown and notification for when the return window is closing for each piece of clothing.
Outfit recommendations will be based, in part, on style advice parsed from style guides absorbed by the artificial intelligence of IBM’s Watson. It will also choose ensembles based on day of the week and local weather forecasts. The site will also let you share your look with other site members.
Finery’s success will depend on how well it can overcome the entrenched habit of in-store clothes shopping. According to Nielsen, 82% of those who reported buying clothes in the last six months made purchases at brick and mortar retail locations. On the other hand 41% report also buying clothes online in that same time frame. The market research firm Mintel sees a shift in buying habits. A September 2016 study found that 81% of surveyed online adults reported making an online purchase and a whopping 87% of those shoppers are willing to buy clothing online.
Casey admits that many people still do not shop for clothes online and, even among those who do, they may do less than half of it through web sites. “If you do not shop online, you may not like our product,” she said. However, anything over 20% online clothes shopping is, Casey said, enough to gain value.
You can bring your analog clothing world into Finery as well. You can search the Finery database for your clothing or upload images of your clothing (either images you took or those you find on Google) and then let the site, which uses Cloud Vision, identify the image. Casey said it will auto-identify what the object is, the color and material. You might have to add additional elements like brand and size.
Finery’s algorithms are not perfect yet, but you can let the system know about any misidentifications via a dropdown. Similarly, if the email parsing system pulls in clothes you bought as gifts for someone else you can just identify them as such.
While Finery is ready to build outfits for you, there’s also a drag and drop system that lets you build outfits on your own.
For now, Finery (which is in private beta and launches on March 23) makes money off affiliate links to clothing e-tailers. Eventually, though, it will launch an in-site marketplace where users can sell their clothing, trade it and even offer it to be borrowed. Finery will take a percentage of the transactions.
Casey says this will differ from other sites that let you sell your clothing because users won’t see offers that don’t, for instance, match their size.
These tools are designed to help you make the most out of what you wear and help you add to your closet in a smart way. In the end, Casey thinks Finery can save time.
“We spend 8 years of our lives shopping and 2.5 hours a week getting dressed,” she said. Finery could, Casey thinks, cut some of that way down.