Have you ever developed one of those borderline creepy obsessions with a piece of clothing you spied on a stranger, vowed to find it and buy it, then realized that searching Google for “cool silk jumpsuit blue” doesn’t lead you right to? Even with powerful search engines at our fingertips, hunting down a coveted item of clothing without details on its designer can be frustrating.
Fashion startup ASAP54 aims to solve this problem. It’s an image recognition service that matches photos of clothing and accessories to products in its database of thousands of images from retailers including Barneys, Neiman Marcus, and Topshop. ASAP54 launched last Friday after raising $3.75 million in venture capital.
The idea for ASAP54 came to 33-year-old founder Daniela Cecilio after she spent a maddening three hours searching the web for a pair of vintage Chanel glasses she’d spotted offline, to no avail. “My idea was that everything you see you should be able to find,” Cecilio, the former COO of online fashion marketplace Farfetch, told Business of Fashion.
Here’s how it works: Upload a picture of the item you want–one you might’ve surreptitiously snapped of a stylish bag on the subway, for example, or a photo you saw online–and search it by category. The app scans thousands of listed items, comparing fabrics and designs, and delivers results most similar to your item, with links to where you can buy it. As of now, there are about 700,000 pieces in ASAP’s database, but Cecilio says that number will reach 3 million by September.
If the technology fails to find what you’re looking for, you can ask one of ASAP54’s real-live personal stylists to hunt it down for you. Cecilio claims her service fills a void in the world of online shopping: “I get inspired by Instagram, fashion blogs, [but] most of them don’t give you enough information,” Cecílio said. “It was always very hard because you would Google, and Google would come up with the worst results. Nothing compared with what you were searching for. I use Polyvore, I use Shopstyle, but no one is focusing on something proper for the fashion industry.”
There’s a built-in social angle to ASAP54, too. You can follow other users to see what styles they’re searching for inspiration and to copy their looks. Menswear designer Michael Bastian says ASAP could be “incredibly big,” and indeed, the company plans to expand internationally, first to Brazil and the Middle East, then to China and Japan.
Could this mean the end of searching vague keywords like “little black lace-up witch boot” only to be presented with links to Halloween costume shops? We can only hope.
ASAP54 is available for free at the iTunes Store here.