“We realized that women were spending more on their clothing than their education, and yet there is so much that is hanging in their closets that they don’t use,” said Whitney Casey by way of explaining why she and Brooklyn Decker decided to create Finery, the virtual wardrobe and styling app they launched in March 2017.
Just over a year later, the former CNN journalist and the model-actress celebrated with a launch party at the Microsoft Lounge in Culver City, Calif. While the company is based in New York, where both divide their time with Austin, Tex., Decker has a host of friends in Los Angeles, such as Chrissy Teigen, John Legend and Jen Atkin, all of whom came to cheer her on, as did New Yorker Emmy Rossum (both she and Decker are filming television shows in L.A. this summer).
Casey shared the stat that women only wear 20 percent of what’s in their wardrobes because “you really can only inventory that much in your busy life. How are you also supposed to remember everything that you own? You have your three go-to outfits and that propagates not wearing the rest of your clothes.”
With a seed round of funding last winter and $5 million raised so far, Finery has added artificial intelligence visual search features to offer users recommendations on what to wear and how to wear it based on the items in their closets. These existing items are all pictured using Finery’s proprietary technology — which was just patented — that can find photos of the exact items from e-mail-linked clothing receipts, even those that don’t come with photos.
The recommendations are culled from a network of Instagram influencers, many of whom the app partners with.
“For those of you in the crowd who are old enough to remember CDs, think about how you used to be able to see them all. Now when you think about iTunes, never did we think we could have all our music on a phone. When I look what I can do mobile-y — change the temperature in my house or check on my children with the nanny cam — there was nothing out there to help me manage my s–t. We believe if you have access to your stuff you will wear it,” said Decker.
She pointed out that Millennials only wear items four to five times, then discard them, so there is a half-trillion dollars worth of clothing going unworn in people’s closets.
“It is so innovative what we’re doing, but what’s challenging is that a lot of education is required. That’s a huge responsibility to get the word out,” said Decker about why she chose to do a launch event in L.A. for her influencer friends.
Among them were a young woman named Heather, who suggested the returns reminder feature is one of the app’s latest upgrades. “I buy all my clothes online, but I return 80 percent of them, so I need that reminder,” she said.
While Decker said the app is “completely free for now,” Casey said they plan to monetize it through eventually charging for styling services, such as building a wardrobe for a weekend away or a business meeting.
The other aim is to offer shopping options based on items women already own and like, and peer-to-peer resale. Said Casey, “We don’t want to actually sell you clothes. We want to provide some sort of service for you: real styling with their existing clothes, a more affordable or expensive version of something you already love, and after that the ability to recoup when you’re done wearing it. It’s the entire life cycle of your clothing all on one place.”
Said Decker, “We spend two-and-a-half hours a week figuring out what to wear and we think that’s bulls–t. You should do the things you want to do like run a company or spend time with friends and children.”
She reminded the crowd to vote in the midterm elections as a way of “women supporting women” and gave shout-outs to Teigen, saying “she’s doing a party tomorrow.”
“And everyone is invited,” said Legend. “It’s in Malibu and it’s for Becca Cosmetics,” said Teigen, before adding, “Jen Atkin is having a competing party tomorrow, too.”