Apps aid fashionistas in tracking down clothing

Fashionistas envious of clothing, shoes and accessories worn by strangers or seen on websites can turn to new apps for hassle-free shopping to find, and buy or rent, similar items.

Like the music app Shazam, which identifies songs based on sound clips, new fashion apps use photos and image recognition technology to find similar clothing. "People see items they like on the street but can't really go up to the person wearing them and ask where they got them," said Daniela Cecilio, the chief executive of London-based startup Asap54.

"Or they might see items they like on Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook or Twitter, but can't really click through to buy them," she added.

With the Asap54 app for iPhone, which was launched last month, users take a photo of an item, or upload an existing one, and describe what it is to help the app identify it.

The app recommends something similar from more than 150 retail partners across the United States, Europe and other countries.

The Style Eyes app for iPhone and Android also uses a photo to find the desired or a similar item, which can be purchased from its catalogue of 600 retailers in Britain and 300 in the US.

Mark Elfenbein, chief digital officer of Toronto-based start-up company Slyce, said its image recognition technology integrates with retail brands so shoppers can find things by taking a photo with their iPhone or scanning an image from their desktop.

Visual searches
"The way brands are trying to communicate with customers is changing. Historically, they would lure customers to their stores or websites, but now we're seeing that brands want to create transactions in other places too," said Elfenbein. 

The technology recognises information such as how far apart buttons are, and fabric and stitching to help power visual searches. But image recognition is still inexact and depends on the quality of the photo and other factors, such as lighting.

To overcome the drawbacks, Elfenbein said, Slyce uses a mix of technology and crowdsourcing to improve its search results.


Other apps making shopping easier include Pounce for IOS, created by Tel Aviv-based company BuyCode. It allows consumers to buy items directly from retail advertisements from stores such as Lord & Taylor and office supply company Staples by hovering their smartphone camera over an image.

With the eBay Fashion iPhone app, users in the US and Britain can upload an image to find similar items available for sale on eBay.

For consumers more interested in renting than buying, Rent the Runway's iPhone app uses a photo of an item seen in a store to find something similar that customers can rent instead. – Reuters

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Natasha Baker
Natasha Baker works from San Francisco, CA. Electrical engineer @Snap_EDA, the Internet's first parts library for circuit board design. Natasha Baker has over 1829 followers on Twitter.
Advertising

Mapisa-Nqakula ‘regrets confusion’ after contradictory statements on Khosa case

The minister’s media statement follows a letter from Khosa’s attorneys that they were considering a perjury charge or a complaint with the Public Protector

Capture claims plague new private-security bargaining council

Unhappy members of the National Bargaining Council for the Private Security Sector say corporate governance standards are being flouted

The backlogs, denials and future of testing Covid-19

The National Health Laboratory Services finally admitted to a bottleneck last week, after denying there were any issues since April. According to the service, the backlog of 80 000 tests started in the first week of May
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…

The best local and international journalism

handpicked and in your inbox every weekday