The new online closet platform Finery is taking a tech-first approach to the virtual closet, using a combination of e-mail parsing, categorization algorithms and machine learning to power what it bills as an operating system for your wardrobe. Whitney Casey, a former television anchor and author, cofounded the startup with the model and actress Brooklyn Decker. The idea: Avoid roadblocks faced by previous attempts at the digitized closet, like weak editing technology and the unappealing reliance on user-uploaded photos.
“It was born out of frustration with the current products,” Casey said, adding that, while older companies like ClosetHQ and Stylebook have relied on technology, it’s a less-efficient strain of “DIY tech.” Her team also felt that an app, which most of these digital closets have launched with, was not the best platform to start on (though they plan to launch one eventually). “70 percent of our shopping is done on a computer,” she said, “even though everyone keeps touting [mobile shopping].”
The company, currently in beta, will launch in full on March 23. While it’s a risky endeavor, given the failure of many of its precedents, there are six factors, listed below, that might lead it to succeed.
Finery founders Whitney Casey and Brooklyn Decker
Users aren’t required to do as much work.
While similar attempts at cataloging a wardrobe have relied on users uploading photos and inputing all of the relevant product information, Finery employs sophisticated data algorithms to do that instead. After an email parser sifts through your email account to track down previous clothing and accessory purchase receipts, a categorization algorithm will go to work identifying exactly what the products are that you’ve bought (style, brand, color, etc.) and how much you paid for them. From there, images will be sourced for each item from what’s available online.
It has created the ultimate wish list.
While the focus of the site is on items you already own, there’s a shopping element involved, as well. Using Finery’s Chrome extension, users will be able to swiftly add products they’re interested in to one large wish list on the site (though they plan to become shoppable — you have to click out to purchase for now). It’s in the vein of a BabyList, which allows expectant mothers to create a registry from across the web. Casey hopes this will rid users of inconveniently having wish-list items strewn across numerous sites. A small Finery button with the same functionality will also pop up over products on 500 different sites (including Farfetch and Revolve) à la the Pinterest button. “We went and white-listed so that the button doesn’t pop up in unnecessary places,” said Casey. Users will also be able to download any previously created Pinterest-based wish lists into the one on Finery.
The Finery homepage
Closet analytics will provide a new service to customers.
Using live closet analytics, Finery will help users compare what’s on their wish list with what’s already in their closet. An example, said Casey, would be if you had a lot of white shoes in your wardrobe already and were considering buying another pair. “[We’ll alert you that] you have a lot of white shoes in your wardrobe, so you may want to look at a different pair, instead, if you want to optimize your wardrobe,” she said. Given the redundancies women tend to have (and lament) in regard to their closets, this could prove to be genuinely beneficial.
What’s more, the platform tracks both how often you incorporate different pieces into the outfits you create and how often you click on something, in order to help calculate your respective interest in the piece (and whether or not it was a smart purchase).
It could be a boon to the online resale market.
Although plans are still in the works, Casey hopes to use the data gleaned from Finery to facilitate a better shopping and selling experience on resale sites like The RealReal and Vestiaire Collective. “We don’t want to create competition with the products that are already out there — we want to provide them a service,” she said, noting that Finery could give the companies access to their backend to track what items go unworn in people’s closets (that they might just be willing to sell). It can also help confirm an item’s authenticity: “We [will usually] have the original receipt and know the MSRP of your closet, so that, if something is aberrant, we can flag it.”
Styling inspiration will be available for most items.
Lauren Santo Domingo, who’s an adviser to the company, suggested that it offer different styling ideas for each item in a person’s closet. As such, it sources total looks featuring that exact item from fashion bloggers, celebrities and e-commerce sites for users to consider. This process, which also takes seconds, is available for most products, though not all.
Finery will also be culling any timely trend reports from fashion magazines and websites, and putting them into IBM Watson, which will then distill the information down into five or six top trends. From there, Finery will offer you a capsule collection from your own wardrobe that’s inspired by the latest trends.
An example of a user’s wardrobe, featuring a return notification
It will make the return process less painful.
The worst part about online shopping is arguably the return process, especially given the myriad of different policies that companies employ. Finery hopes to ease this a bit by keeping track of the return periods for all of your newly purchased items, sending you notifications to warn you if the period is almost up and allowing you to start the return process directly from their site.
Similarly, it will keep track of price adjustments so that, if you buy an item that goes on sale a few days later, you’ll get the difference back on your credit card automatically.