Women navigate fashion brands using machine learning

  • May 27, 2020
  • imc

A shopping app is using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help women find fashion items. California-based The Yes was created by ecommerce veteran Julie Bornstein and technical co-founder Amit Aggarwal.

Using an algorithm powered by individual choices and human instincts around personal style, it deploys computer vision and machine learning to encode fashion and create a consumer experience tailor-made for each user.

The Yes asks simple questions prompting a yes or no answer. The algorithm then streamlines the shopping experience with recommended brands, themes and trends specifically for that user. A smart search feature filters each shopper’s style and brand preferences across all categories, themes and brands.

It is adaptive in session, which means as a shopper taps a yes or no, the algorithm re-ranks products in real time.

Features include a personal daily refreshed feed of relevant products, one-tap frictionless buying in-app, automatic size recommendations and the ability to see what friends are clicking for inspiration.

The Yes offers a broad range of brands to serve women’s high and low shopping, bringing together brands previously unavailable from the same source. At launch, The Yes will carry more than 150 of the leading brands across the industry including Ralph Lauren Collection, Altuzarra, Erdem, Everlane, La Ligne, Rosie Assoulin, Staud, Balenciaga, Acne Studios, Ganni, Tabitha Simmons, Frame and Vince.

When a brand integrates with The Yes, the platform sells each brand’s full digital catalogue, offering its entire assortment by integrating into the fashion algorithm. This requires automatically decoding every SKU and ranking it to each shopper.

“Shopping and building the best online shopping experiences have been my life-long passion,” said Bornstein. “What many women may consider overwhelming, I find an exciting challenge. That is why building The Yes has been a dream come true. Working with both incredible brands and deep engineering and machine-learning talent, we’ve been able to build a next-generation shopping experience that brings the best of efficient, fun and delightful shopping by leveraging new technologies that didn’t even exist a few years ago.”

Aggarwal added: “Understanding Julie’s passion, building an A+ team of engineers and solving real life problems by using machine learning and computer vision to build novel software products has led us to ground-breaking innovation in ecommerce. To create this new way to shop required a tech infrastructure that was built from scratch with the customers’ preferences at the core of the shopping experience. No legacy player can build this because it requires a totally new approach to merging computer vision, natural language processing and AI with building proprietary technology. We have three patents pending already.”

The launch comes at a time when shopping and retail are more uncertain than ever before. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, The Yes postponed launch to understand better the direction of the ecommerce landscape, the needs of brands and ultimately how consumers will want to shop and interact with brands as it moves forward.

With many retailers filing for bankruptcy, cancelling orders and closing stores, The Yes could now be a much-needed resource for brands and a new way to engage with consumers. The app allows brands to diversify their distribution channels at a time when physical retail is unable to operate and wholesale partners are uncertain. The platform can keep brands’ existing customers shopping and acquire a new audience.

“What sets Julie apart from so many industry leaders is her deep understanding of the pain points brands face with traditional wholesale distribution,” said fashion and creative director Taylor Tomasi Hill. “Julie aims to give the power back to the brands and I’m thrilled to champion her mission. I get to work with designers and brands in full support of their creative vision, which makes the storytelling for the consumer so much more gratifying.”

The Yes is donating a dollar per download to Good+ Foundation during the first month of launch. Good+ is partnering with frontline workers across the country to get donations to families in need.

“We are thrilled to partner with The Yes and grateful for their support of our work with underserved families in this country,” said Jessica Seinfeld, president of Good+ Foundation. “We chose to be part of this venture because The Yes is aiming to help companies stay in business during this crisis and trying to encourage job stability in this sector, which is critical to our economy.”

Bornstein brings more than 25 years of expertise in transforming the ecommerce experience during her tenure at Nordstrom, Sephora and StitchFix. Aggarwal brings deep technology roots, including time at Google, Bing, Groupon and Bloomreach. The Yes also tapped Lisa Green of Google to run partnership development.

The Yes has raised $30m in funding from venture capitalists Kirsten Green at Forerunner Ventures, Jon Callaghan at True Ventures and Tony Florence at NEA, as well as Comcast Ventures and Bain Capital Ventures.