Buying Shoes? Digital Stylists Use A.I. to Suggest Clothing to Match

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Whitney Casey, a former television anchor, to create a “wardrobe operating system.”

Once a person sets up an account with Finery, the startup essentially scrapes the online store accounts connected with that e-mail address for the last decade or so, and mines the purchases from those vendors. That information is then used to create a digital closet on the Finery app, which uses a Pinterest-like display. Casey says Finery has 700 stores and brands on its app—and it can add small boutiques if a few customers mention that they shop there.

“We want your data to be working for you,” Casey adds, “to help you make smarter decisions about what to wear and helping you to shop more strategically.”

Finery will also note and keep track of things like return policies, and send automated alerts when the window is closing. So far, the company says, it has about 100,000 users.

I decided to give Finery a spin, and found that—at least for a customer like me—it won’t be easy to create my virtual closet by mining my e-mail messages. I tend to strive for a clutter-free inbox, so I delete my order messages from Amazon or Zappo’s as soon as the deliveries are made. So my Finery Wardrobe only consists of three items.

Oddly, one of them is a purse I don’t own. Another surprise is that while Finery found a pair of black heels I ordered from Zappo’s last year, it did not locate a second pair of shoes in that same order.

Catherine Clark, Finery’s manager of partnerships and business development, says if you don’t have certain order e-mails any more, you can log onto those retail accounts from the Finery website. For me, that means tracking down my passwords for Nordstrom or Neiman Marcus, something I will have to carve time out for later. That kind of time commitment that might turn off some users.

Last month, Finery announced it had raised $5 million in a seed round led by NEA and investors such as BBG Ventures, Farfetch, and RetailMeNot founder and CEO Cotter Cunningham, among others. The funding will be used to add developers and data scientists. Casey says they are working on a beta to use artificial intelligence tools to make styling recommendations.

(FindMine has raised $1.7 million from XSeed Capital, Kiwi Ventures, RevTech, and XRC Labs, as well as a handful of angel investors, Bacharach says.)

The idea for FindMine first occurred to Bacharach eight years ago, and she explored it at a business plan competition while attending New York University’s Stern School of Business. But it wasn’t until recently when the necessary tech innovations—combined with retailers’ search for more personalized ways to target customers—were in place to provide the kind of service that Bacharach envisioned with that leather skirt. “After a lot of false starts, in August 2015, we found our first retail customer,” she says. “Then the growth has been dramatic.”

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