NEW YORK — Awear Solutions is looking to make it easier for consumers to identify and buy a fashion item they have seen — and DKNY will be the first brand to test out the yet-to-be-released tool.
This story first appeared in the April 14, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“It will not give you similar items — but the exact [one],” Tel-Aviv, Israel-based cofounder Liron Slonimsky said of the encrypted module and corresponding app that serves three main functions: telling a user which product it is and how to buy it; ensuring the product is real and not a fake, and offering brands a way to connect with consumers and gather data.
Awear’s goal is to make obsolete current widely used image recommendation engines that offer consumers products similar to the ones they see, but not always the exact one.
The hardware, a dime-sized chip that transforms any item into a “smart” object, provides consumers with identification of an item from a distance of up to 30 feet. Users can simply use the “scan” function to identify brands of anything they wish, as well as price; where to buy it, and available colors, sizes and similar styles. The module is washing-machine safe and transmits for up to five years. Slonimsky and her team are already in talks with Silicon Valley-based manufacturers to develop an even thinner, next-generation model.
Not only will Awear Solutions facilitate the information gathering and impulsive purchase process, but it can serve as an authentication tool and dissuade knockoffs, Slonimsky explained. A luxury brand can potentially implement the technology into its goods to assure authenticity. “People that purchase a real item want other people to know that,” she said.
From an influencer standpoint, participating brands and retailers can see which items are scanned the most, what is a bestseller, who is driving the influence and more. For example, if a particular person’s shoes result in an inordinate amount of purchases, the brand learns that one, this person is an influencer and two, they might need to reproduce that particular style.
Consumers who buy anything encrypted with Awear Solutions also have the choice to opt-out of the technology.
The company is spending the rest of the year solidifying partnerships with 20 early adopters in the fashion and retail space and plans for an official launch in 2015. Awear Solutions received $200,000 in seed funding (investors include the Israeli Office of the Chief Scientist) and is in the process of raising additional capital.
DKNY will be the first brand to test the chip today at an event at the company’s flagship on Madison Avenue here. Awear developed a brand-specific app to showcase the tool’s capabilities. According to Aliza Licht, Donna Karan International senior vice president of global communications and social media personality “DKNYPRGirl,” 20 items in the store — ranging from apparel, shoes and accessories — were tagged with the chip.
Upon arrival, guests will download Awear’s app and select an “egg.” Each of the 20 eggs are tagged to an item in the store, with the app directing users to their chosen hidden Easter “egg.” As the person gets closer or further from their item, the screen will change to red or blue and provide “hot” or “cold” clues. Once the item is found, the app will reveal full details of the item.
“I can see it becoming an industry standard in a matter of years, attached to every item just like another label,” said Yuli Ziv, founder and chief executive officer of Style Coalition and an Awear Solutions advisory board member, calling the tool the “missing link between social and retail.” She explained that the tool differs from technologies like Beacon or RFID chips — both targeted for retailers on an industry basis. “This is on a consumer level.”