After roughly a year of invite-only availability, Amazon’s Echo Look finally struts out onto the consumer market.
The web giant, which has been trying to build its fashion business in new ways, released the $200 fashion selfie camera to the public Wednesday.
As an Alexa-powered device, Look does what all the other Echo speaker products do — conducts searches, delivers weather and traffic reports, controls smart homes, plays music and more, all through voice commands.
But Echo Look’s primary mission is to give users style guidance.
The hands-free camera effectively brings Amazon-branded artificial intelligence into the bedroom. Thanks to computer vision, Look’s Style Check feature can tell fashionistas which outfits look best on them, or let the Amazon Spark community vote between two looks. The device can also advise users based on weather, geographic location, occasion, trends and styles they already have in their closets.
“We’re constantly listening to customers and thinking about what new features can we bring to make Echo Look more useful for them and more compelling,” Linda Ranz, Amazon’s director of Echo product management, told WWD.
Look can serve multiple people at once, so one’s penchant for preppy looks won’t interfere with their roommate’s goth statements. People registered under Household Profiles can switch between the accounts by talking to the camera or enabling Alexa’s Speaker ID to automatically recognize and distinguish voices.
The Look’s not-so-secret sauce is data, and it has plenty to mine. Amazon employs legions of style experts, data scientists and machine learning specialists, who can avail themselves of insights and resources from the e-commerce company’s vast marketplace, as well as advice from publisher Condé Nast, which put Vogue and GQ’s fashion content on the Look app’s home screen in February. Blending human and machine has become the “It” thing for fashion-tech purveyors from Stitch Fix to Poshmark, but the industry will be paying special attention to the see how the Look performs given Amazon’s influence.
Amazon’s approach with Look offers a chance to understand shopping behavior within the context of a user’s wardrobe.
To get their existing styles into the mix, Look users can snap photos of their clothes and the tech can sort them into “collections” by seasons, color or other categories. On trips, users can use the app to log their looks, so they don’t forget what they wore or where they wore it.
“One of the things that I find, with having used Echo Look now for years, is that you start to realize that you’re wearing the same thing all the time,” Ranz said.
Had the launch come at any other time, the fashion gadget’s path to adoption would likely be easier. Asking people to put cameras in their bedrooms or changing rooms can be a dicey proposition to begin with. But it’s entering the market amid high concerns about data privacy. The priority du jour for brands and retailers is to make the scenario more transactional: Offer such benefit and value that people will willingly offer up their data in exchange.
For Amazon, that means convenience, which is a consistent thread throughout its products and services. Making the case for Look may be a bit tricky — changing clothes and snapping pics may be a no-brainer for the fashionistas and influencers it catered to at first, but for many people, it could be a chore. Once done, however, the technology makes it easy for users to keep track of what they have and get recommendations for new combinations or items that go with that blue shirt or those gray slacks.
“For example, I wore this outfit today. And because I signed up for pairings, I get recommendations throughout the day of tops that I wear with these pants, and vice versa,” Ranz explained. “It’s about using something you have in a different way.”
It’s also about selling clothes, which is something Amazon is naturally interested in with its private labels and brand partnerships.
According to Ranz, the company didn’t push that in earlier versions of the Look app, which buried product suggestions in the interface. But users kept asking for recommendations, so now it’s a spotlight feature, one that can even bring a few surprises.
“Amazon continues to add new brands, and you don’t necessarily know what all is there now. Even I found brands that are in Amazon’s catalogue that I would have assumed we didn’t have,” she said. “So sometimes I’ll discover, like, ‘Whoa, I didn’t know we carry AG Jeans!’ And so it’s been fun for me to explore ways into the clothing that I might not have found just from a search.”
Look and its discovery powers appear to be moving into a pivotal role for Amazon’s fashion fixation, which has been ramping up over the past year with Prime Wardrobe and deepening research into virtual fitting. In addition to serving up Vogue and GQ content, the company partnered with Prabal Gurung at New York Fashion Week in February. The camera captured the backstage action and created a look book based on the designer’s fall collection. Amazon also worked with designer and stylist Rachel Zoe. In one episode of “Real Life With Rachel Zoe,” she used the Alexa gadget alongside influencers Sheryl Luke, Natalie Lim Suarez and Brittany Xavier.
“Alexa is my new styling assistant. I wish I had Echo Look early on in my career as a stylist,” said Zoe. “For anyone who needs a little help deciding what to wear, Style Check is a total game-changer.”
Now the company is banking that Look’s new features and wider availability won’t just change the fashion game, but ultimately help the giant win it.