Craze Screenshop, a new iPhone app that’s received a helping hand from Kim Kardashian, is looking to make buying fashion online easier — and is borrowing a page from the world of mobile music to do it.
The app, officially introduced Tuesday, gives fashionistas a new mechanism for searching and shopping styles directly from screenshots and other photos. Screenshop bills it as “Shazam for fashion,” referring to the app that helps users identify music they’re hearing.
Chief technology officer Jonathan Caras said the app pulls results from the inventories of as many as 450 retail and brand partners — including Nordstrom, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges, Nordstrom, Yoox, Farfetch, Revolve and Topshop.
The idea was the brainchild of Molly Hurwitz and cofounders Mark Fishman and Meir Hurwitz, cofounder and chief marketing officer.
A former Wall Street manager, Molly Hurwitz had an ongoing complaint about the current state of social commerce.
“I follow my friends, and I follow influencers,” she said. “But there was really no easy solution to shop [their looks]. That frustrated me. I found myself Googling.”
Typically influencers tag their clothes, so followers can see the label or style name, and even purchase the items. “But that’s extremely limited,” she said. “Influencers manually upload photos of themselves, and manually tag those brands, but they only tag certain items they’re wearing — and they’re usually high-priced. I like their inspiration, but I wished there was a way I didn’t have to buy exactly what they were wearing, like a copy cat.”
So Hurwitz and team made one. Last year, the start-up brought in Caras, a tech veteran with experience dealing with visual media. He previously founded Glide, a 2016 Fast Company pick for 10 Most Innovative Companies for Video. The camera and video chat startup’s claim to fame was being the first to put a camera band on the Apple Watch. Another addition to the crew came roughly around that time: Kardashian.
When Kim and Molly met — through introductions by celebrity jeweler Lorraine Schwartz — a representative at Kardashian West Brands noted: “Molly shared with her very early stage concepts. Kim immediately recognized the potential and started advising on changes that she felt that it needed to become an app that she would actually use and what she felt consumers actually wanted.”
Hurwitz said, “The idea totally resonated with her and Kim has been really hands-on with the product development.” Now, in addition to celebrity and style icon, Kardashian can add the official title of “early adopter and advisor” for Screenshop.
Caras described the experience: Users start by downloading the app and enabling push notifications. “Now, when our app is running in the background, and you’re on another app — Safari, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. — you screenshot it,” he said. “Then our app scans the photo locally on your device.”
By design, Screenshop provides a range of options for similar looks at various prices. When users make a selection, the app redirects to the retailer’s site, and the garment pre-populates the shopping cart.
In a basic demo last week, the app did a pretty good job of identifying blouses and shoes, and managed to pick out dark articles in an all-black outfit — sometimes a daunting task for machines or humans. To understand the screenshots, the app uses “computer vision, as well as artificial intelligence, to detect which screenshots are fashion-related,” he said. “We also use algorithms to recommend similar or identical products.”
So far, company has analyzed 26,417 “screenshops” from 3,000 beta users. If this app follows the trajectory of most AI technologies, then it will get better with more data from more usage.
Where the app and its 12-person crew go from there could be content. “What we hear from beta testers is, can you give us an example of what kinds of looks I should be screenshotting?” added Caras, who sees this as path to creating content. “[Picture it] on a rotating basis, different blogs, different types of outfits, different events — how people can take that inspiration.”
But first, Screenshop needs to get past this initial stress test and prove itself out in the real world. So far, the app has been in a “soft launch,” which is code for quietly entering an app store without fanfare, usually with the purpose of testing.
Now, the app waits, hoping to get discovered itself.