The fashion world in recent years has begun to digitize rapidly. Between virtual showrooms and pandemic-enhanced online shopping, fashion retailers have had to adapt to customer needs.
One of the biggest challenges in the industry has been getting a shopper to buy the items in their cart, which can be difficult for customers who can’t imagine how the clothes or accessories might look on them- same instead of a pattern. That’s what StyleScan Inc. is trying to change by offering artificial intelligence-based visualization technology to improve the online shopping experience.
The company, based in Brentwood but with a main studio in Van Nuys, was founded by Larissa Posner in 2018. Posner holds a Certificate in Commercial Application of Machine Learning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and has more than 10 years experience in advising companies on investment matters. relationships and strategies. Posner also spent time working as a catalog model.
While working in quantitative finance in 2018, Posner learned she didn’t have time to shop at physical stores and found many were closing around her. She considered that “the retail apocalypse”.
“Barneys closed on the Upper West Side next to my house. All the big retailers were closing chains of their stores because at the time they called it the ‘Amazon effect,'” Posner recalls. the world has started shopping online, without going to stores. At the same time, I’ve looked at Shopify and some of these other platforms, and their stocks are rallying and they’re doing great. Naturally, you have to assume convenience overrides and e-commerce will be the future. So what can we do now to create a product that the market will need later? »
Posner said she wanted to be her own client. She came up with the idea of uploading her photo and being able to see herself in a retailer’s inventory. She brought together a group of computer scientists, venture capitalists and fashion executives to develop virtual dress-up technology.
Posner spoke to the financial services team at Corporate Profile, an investor relations firm representing publicly traded biotech, technology and financial services companies, and asked if they could predict stock prices. actions, was it possible to predict the size of women and possibly show it to women?
“The answer was ‘yes’. We now have a lot of breakthroughs in computer vision and AI. We can take a piece of clothing from a photo superimposed on another photo,” Posner said. “We will have to train and build neural networks and train algorithms. But yes, it’s possible. And so, I raised the first million dollars. It was in 2019.”
That’s when things got serious.
How it works
StyleScan image processing technology takes a 2D photo of an item of clothing or an accessory and converts it into a 3D volumetric mesh that can be superimposed on humans of different shapes and sizes.
Posner said this technology could be used to make several areas of the fashion industry more sustainable and profitable, one of them being traditional photography.
“A single photo of a garment, say, on a mannequin. Now this garment can be shown in every size instead of just one sample size. Now it can be shown on women with different skin tones, body shapes and sizes,” Posner said. “And everything is digital. (We) can generate zero waste. We can turn things around in 48 hours, whereas if you were to do a traditional photoshoot it would take a minimum of two weeks, probably three weeks. And then the cost, you can’t compare costs. »
The StyleScan team surveyed 12 apparel companies of varying sizes, from small to large, to see how much e-commerce photo shoots cost them. For smaller retailers, a final image can cost around $50, while larger luxury brands pay up to $1,000 per image.
“With StyleScan, it’s the price of a bottle of water,” Posner said.
In addition to being cost effective and sustainable, Posner said retailers using their technology have seen an increase in sales and conversion rates.
The company offers two types of services: Model Switch and Style Switch. In the first, a customer can choose an item from the retailer’s site and choose from different designs to view the part.
“Our next product is Style Switch, where you can also dress the model with the items from the retailer’s inventory selection and be your own stylist and create complete looks and create a sort of preview before you buy,” said she declared.
Potential customers wishing to use the company’s technology will choose from a list of subscription tiers depending on the volume and number of templates they want for their site.
“Do they just want one item, one model, or do they want one item in multiple sizes, multiple skin tones? … It’s based on volume, revenue, and the relationship they want to achieve. requires some integration into our partner’s e-comm. The integration is just us managing their Shopify account.
The company is an official Shopify Partner. Customers give them access to Shopify, where they upload all the images included in the subscription package.
StyleScan also plans to offer different levels of models.
“Maybe someone will be an influencer with a certain number of followers and that will be something you can access with your higher premium plan,” Posner said. “A package in which you can not only change models, but also change styles. This is truly our creme de la creme premium package.
After 30 days with StyleScan, jewelry saleswoman Millianna saw her conversion rate increase by 93% and her total dollar sales increase by 367%.
“Usually they photographed earrings on a white background, nothing else. And what they discovered is that a consumer comes to the site and then cannot view the item. What is the size of this earring? Where does it hit you? And so the customer now goes to Google and starts searching for the item and you have the potential to lose a customer,” Posner said.
“With StyleScan, we’ve added our magic ‘virtual model try-on’ button. Now you can see it on different women with different skin tones and you can view the item and view its size.
Posner said it’s critical they don’t operate as a black box business where customers submit photos of the garments and then upload the output images.
“We have professional designers, professional stylists (and) professional creative directors on our staff, so it’s almost like a cyborg where a human operates the software and a human controls the quality of everything that comes out and is presented. to the customer,” Posner said. “We make sure that there is aesthetic control over the outcome of the software.”
With the intersection between tech and fashion comes a lot of uncharted territory, but Posner said tech companies and makers will always go through a learning curve when trying to figure out how to navigate these changes in the industry.
Posner also said she was proud to see that her clients had seen a direct effect of StyleScan on their businesses and were even more excited to work with them.
“Since we started…we’re already seeing customers coming back and doubling up and upgrading and wanting more SKUs on a monthly basis…driven by the styles. Now they’re not only seeing the aesthetic upgrade, but also the efficacy data,” Posner said.