Category Archives: Fashion

Asos adds search-by-photo to its fashion ecommerce app

Computer vision continues to find its way into all sorts of apps as the underlying tech powering convenience-oriented image searches. Latest — and it must be said late — to the party is fashion ecommerce player Asos, which has just added a visual search feature to its iOS app.

The update lets iOS users snap a photo of a garment or fashion accessory with their device camera or pull in an existing outfit shot or Instagram screengrab (say) from their camera roll and have the app show clothes items that are at least in the general fashion ballpark of whatever it is they’re trying to find.

Asos says the visual search will be rolled out to their Android app “soon”.

The company says 80 per cent of UK traffic for ASOS comes from a mobile device, as do almost 70 per cent of UK orders — with consumers spending 80 minutes per month on average in the app.

We tested the feature on a few items of clothing and it worked reasonably well. It’s not necessarily going to find a perfect match — not least because there are only 85,000 searchable products in Asos’ index — but when not matching quite right for form, it was at least pulling in similar sorts of patterns. So you end up with the same sort of fashion feel at least.

Given the specific ecommerce use-case here, where Asos’ aim is to drive sales of its stock by greasing the clothes discovery pipeline (being as text searches are pretty tedious, especially so on smaller screen devices), you’d expect a bit of wiggle room in the search results — exactly to encourage a bit of serendipity in the shopping experience.


The UK-based company is a long-time player in the ecommerce space, having launched on the web in 2000 — so it’s by no means pioneering visual search tech here (nor is it building the underlying tech itself, but says it’s partnered with an unnamed startup to deliver the visual search).

Over the last five (or so) years there have been a large number of startups attempting to build fast and convenient visual search engines, often specifically for fashion, including the likes of ASAP54, Craves, Donde Fashion, Slyce and Snap Fashion, to name a few.

Tech platforms have also recently started paying more attention to visual search too, spying potential to combine the vast quantity of visual data they hold with recent developments in deep learning/AI technology that is helping realize the potential of computer vision.

For example, Pinterest has launched a camera-based search feature that turns a real-world object (e.g. an avocado) into a series of Pinterest results (e.g. recipes for avocado). eBay also has its own ecommerce-focused image search in the works, due for launch this fall.

While at its developer conference earlier this year, Google announced Google Lens — demonstrating how it intends to bake awareness into mobile cameras, by applying computer vision smarts so the software will be able to understand what the lens is being pointed at.


Asos adds search-by-photo to its fashion ecommerce app


Madison fashion startup pitches its artificial intelligence software to retailers

One year ago, the Madison startup Markable rolled out its signature product: an app that could take photos of dresses, shirts, handbags or heels and tell you where to buy the clothes in the picture.

Today, that initial game plan has been scrapped. Instead of using its sophisticated artificial intelligence for a consumer fashion app, Markable is now selling its technology to online fashion retailers.

“People don’t like to download apps anymore,” said Joy Tang, Markable’s CEO. “Their phone is so full of apps already.”


The original Markable app was a one-stop shop for fashionistas. A consumer could upload a photo of a clutch handbag, or a model with a snazzy ensemble, and the app would identify the products in the image and highlight similar clothes available for purchase on retail websites.


That app is now gone. Starting this month, Markable’s tech will be found on the website AKIRA, a Midwestern fashion line based in Chicago. When visitors search AKIRA’s inventory, they’ll have a “camera search” option, where they can upload an image of a piece of clothing they like and find similar items to shop through in return.

Then, there’s what Tang calls the “reverse-engineered” version of the Markable technology. When a visitor clicks on a piece of clothing on AKIRA’s shop, they’ll be able to see if it has ever been modeled by a celebrity or fashion blogger. Click on a shirt, and you may see a photo of when that same shirt was previously worn by Taylor Swift. Shoppers then have the option of “completing the look” by buying the rest of T-Swift’s ensemble.

Markable also offers “visual search engine optimization” to retailers. In other words, the software automatically creates descriptions for clothing that will make the items more likely to pop up during a Google search.

AKIRA is just the beginning, said Tang. Markable is currently in talks with five other retailers. The goal, she said, is to become the industry standard for online fashion shopping.


The software Markable has developed is no small feat: When it comes to image recognition technology, clothes are among the toughest things for computers to parse. Fabric can be twisted or contorted into all kinds of shapes or patterns, making it difficult for AI to figure out the patterns.

Tang said that makes fashion one of the next frontiers for image recognition technology.


“If you can do fashion, you can do anything else,” she said.

Tang said that the company’s algorithms have come a long way in the past year, especially since they added more computer scientists to their team to enhance the software’s capabilities.

“When we launched the app last time, we didn’t have our four PhD scientists,” said Tang. “The results were not that amazing.”


Style Ashley Graham Wore the Tiniest String Bikini and Angel Wings in Jamaica

Ashley Graham is a master at posing for swim pics (she is a Sports Illustrated model, after all), but her latest snaps might be our favorite yet.

Graham posed for a few beach pictures in Jamaica in a thin black embroidered bikini from her swimsuit collection Swimsuits for All. The model launched the collection last year with the goal of providing sexy swimsuits for women of many sizes.

Based on these hot pics, we’d say she’s achieving that. On top of it, Graham’s pool inflatable was a giant pair of white wings, and paired with her barely-there bikini, she gave us major Victoria’s Secret vibes. We could totally see Graham rocking that runway.


Graham created Swimsuits for All with inclusivity at its core, so don’t call it “plus-size.” The model recently expressed frustration with that term because it implies there’s a difference between “normal” bodies and “other.”

“It’s like, ‘Plus what?” she said. “That’s something I’ve always been told: You’re not good enough because you’re plus-size.”



Her Instagram comments are flooded with fire emojis and it’s no wonder.


SI Swimsuit Open Casting Call Top 15: Sarina Nowak

It’s that time of year again! SI Swimsuit Casting Call season is upon us, and you’re in for a real treat. 

For the first time ever, we held an open casting call to find our next big star. After receiving thousands of Instagram submissions from women around the world, we invited 35 finalists to SI’s Brooklyn offices for an in-person interview and photo shoot. From there, it wasn’t easy, but we narrowed down the list our Top 15, who made history during Miami Swim Week as they walked the runway in SI’s first branded swimwear show. 


So how about we get to know your Top 15 a little better? First up is our gorgeous German Sarina Nowak!

You may recognize this blonde beauty from her days on Germany’s Next Top Modelwith SI’s own Heidi Klum. Since then, Sarina’s moved out to sunny LA, signed with Wilhelmina and is showing off her curves for the world to see on her steamy Instagram feed. Can’t get enough of Sarina’s uncanny resemblance to Marilyn Monroe or that irresistible smile? You’re not alone…trust us.  



Inside Adidas’ Latest Sneaker ‘Collab’

When Ryo Kashiwazaki created his first handmade leather sneaker, little did he know it would become a hit amongst streetwear cognoscenti and hip-hop stars alike. The idea was deceptively simple: take iconic sneaker styles — like Adidas’ Superstars and Nike’s Air Jordan IVs — and reconstruct them entirely by hand in premium leather, using the kind of artisanal manufacturing processes typically reserved for high-end formal footwear. The legality of the approach was uncertain and the sneakers were expensive, retailing for over $1000 a pair. But the concept caught on like wildfire, first in Japan and then internationally. Every hype-beast who bought a pair acquired bragging rights over those who picked up a regular pair of Nikes.

Kashiwazaki called his brand Hender Scheme, a name that plays on Sandra Bem’s “gender schema” theory. By its third season, twenty stockists had turned up to buy the collection, including influential Canadian boutique Haven. Stockists like SsenseBarneys New York and Bergdorf Goodmanfollowed. Then came collaborations with Sacai and the Ace Hotel.

Now, seven years later, the under-the-radar designer is about to expand his audience with a highly unusual partnership with Adidas Originals that turns the traditional sneaker collaboration model on its head. The first iteration of the tie-up (there will be others) is limited to three styles from the Adidas catalogue — a MicroPacer stripped of its pedometer; an NMD reimagined with its “Boost” midsole removed; and a Superstar — all rendered in Hender Scheme’s signature pastel tones. But critically, Hender Scheme is producing the sneakers and not Adidas. Indeed, each of the collaboration’s 900 pairs are being made by hand in the same ateliers as Hender Scheme’s core offering, using the same leather. The sneakers will bear Adidas branding, but otherwise will look unmistakably Hender Scheme. Models from the collaboration will hit carefully selected stores worldwide on September 2 and retail for between $900 and $1000.

“We are making these shoes our way, so we can only make so many,” says Kashiwazaki. “But we also love sneakers, and what Adidas does in a different way, like manual versus industrial products. So maybe we can find a way in the future where these methods can work together.”


Despite its success, everything about Hender Scheme is unassuming, from the presentation of its products that sit on unfinished plywood displays to its bare-bones store on the outskirts of Ebisu to its modest design studio in Asakusa, Tokyo’s unglamorous garment district. When you meet Kashiwazaki, you understand why. Soft-spoken and contemplative, the 31-year-old former psychology student is refreshingly self-effacing in a fashion industry laced with ego. For him, everything Hender Scheme does is about the product, the artisans who make it and the consumer who buys it.


While Kashiwazaki had plenty of opportunities to exercise his mind at university, he also longed to do something with his hands and so, at 19, he joined a shoe factory, sculpting footwear lasts and making soles. He then spent four years apprenticing at a cobbler. It was there that Kashiwazaki not only learned the craft of shoe-making inside out, but also the value of artisanal labour. He nursed that knowledge and wondered how it could be presented to a wider audience. After all, artisans usually work behind the scenes, often overshadowed by designers. And that’s when it occurred to him that starting with a familiar archetype would remove the focus on design and place the emphasis on craft. What could be more familiar than an iconic sneaker style? In order to reflect the spirit of the collection, Kashiwazaki named it “Hommage.”

In addition to sneakers, Hender Scheme makes footwear, bags and household goods, all out of leather and all in the same artisanal spirit. “My hope is that the customers and stores also notice our main collection,” says Kashiwazaki. “The ‘Hommage’ project is an important one, but it’s only a part of what we do.”

Kashiwazaki calls his work “Manual Industrial Products.” Many of his products are made from tanned leather in its natural colour. The variations in colour tones that bring detail to the original sneaker models come from using different animal hides. The designer says Hender Scheme creates a product that is unfinished until it acquires a unique patina from continuous wear. For Kashiwazaki, this means that the end customer becomes a part of the product cycle. It also helps to establish a personal connection between maker and wearer.


Amazon, Stitch Fix already rank among the top online apparel sellers

Subscription services are ripe for growth in the fashion industry, but they’re also already drawing impressive sales, The NPD Group has found.

While only 15 percent of consumers surveyed by the firm said they have ordered apparel subscription boxes, 14 percent of shoppers who have not ordered them said they plan to. With services such as Trunk Club, Le Tote and Stitch Fix, shoppers receive a personalized assortment of clothing, and then they keep and buy what they like, and send the rest back.

Notably, 35 percent of those surveyed didn’t even know what these services are, NPD Group found, leaving much room for expansion and increased reach.


“We have entered a new world of retail where the traditional leaders are faced with unconventional channel competition, and subscription services are the newest player,” Marshal Cohen, an analyst with NPD Group, said in a statement.

But at least one of these players is already making headway in the apparel category. Last year, both and digital subscription service Stitch Fix were among the top 10 retailers selling apparel online, according to NPD Group, which used a receipt mining service to track companies’ sales.


“Consumers are more critical about the purchases they make today and no longer purchase just for the sake of purchasing. The personalized approach of subscription services complements the shift toward more prioritized spending,” Cohen said.

Stitch Fix has recently expanded its services to men’s apparel and has confidentially filed to go public, seeking a valuation of $3 billion to $4 billion in the offering, according to reports.

Meantime, Amazon is planning to roll out an apparel subscription service of its own, called Prime Wardrobe. If the new service takes off, traditional retailers could be left scrambling, Evercore ISI analyst Omar Saad wrote in an email to clients when it was announced.

“Already, stores of all stripes are struggling mightily to figure out the right combination of online and store to serve the needs of shoppers,” Saad said. “Amazon is not afraid to experiment and has been working hard to find the right fit in fashion.”

In the first 23 weeks of the year, apparel sales amounted to $1.45 billion, a 15 percent increase from 2016, One Click Retail found.

“Amazon still struggles in the luxury brands category since many refuse to sell on Amazon due to the platform’s lax knock-off policies,” One Click Retail’s Nathan Rigby said. “Despite this, our data shows that the company is having great success with necessities and everyday items such as jeans, socks, underwear and men’s work clothes. … Amazon has serious designs on capturing the fashion and apparel market.”

Just last week, Amazon launched a fresh private-label fashion brandfor shoes, purses and accessories, called “The Fix.”

NPD has forecast the fashion industry will increasingly be disrupted by way of digital innovators.

“There is a great deal of room to grow within the subscription model, and the competitive field will continue to expand as online retailers develop subscription services and options for auto-replenishment of fashion basics,” Cohen said.

“This kind of innovation, delivering personalization and convenience, will continue to change the face of retail for fashion.”


Tokyo Street Fashion Gets the Blahs

The kids aren’t all right. A cocktail of social uncertainties has provoked the youth culture fashion in Tokyo’s Harajuku neighborhood to reach a beige fever pitch.

Observers say Instagram selfies have made street peacocking an unnecessary pursuit. Cyberbullying has made young, impressionable style-boppers hesitant to try risky looks. And Olympic construction — where Tokyo-ites are sometimes directed a mile underground to exit major subway stations — has made Japanese avant-garde ephemera (platform shoes, diaphanous skirts) untenable for pedestrian life.

Said designer Mikio Sakabe: “Before the Internet, people felt like they could be special in their own way. They could be a punk or Lolita and do as they wish. Nowadays it’s very difficult to be special. If they want to be themselves, they can’t. Now they have to be with the society.”

Tokyo-based fashion designer Yoshikazu Yamagata, of the brand Writtenafterwards, has noticed the slowdown. “It’s a little bit quiet right now, 10 years ago the street fashion was more energetic,” he said.

Japanese schoolgirls would at one time relish the opportunity to change out of their uniforms and into individualized, eccentric looks. No quantity of necklaces too excessive, no hair color too eccentric, and no petticoat too full. But the counterculture-inclined have now exchanged their colorful outlandish preferences for streamlined looks in neutral tones.

An after-school-hours visit to the Laforet Harajuku youth mall was a study in this more restrained aesthetic — the biggest quirk observed was the Christian rock tunes blaring in each shop. Mall-goers were largely dressed in pared-down clothes that exhibited a globalized sensibility. K-pop-type vinyl miniskirts, sweatshirts purporting Brooklyn roots, and white Adidas sneakers are their new mix.

Trendsetters outside mainstream high school culture layer silver-tone workwear, wide-legged dark denim and music merch Ts for a dark, reflective mood. Makeup has become matte and beige with small red flourishes, further invoking an attitude of restraint.

So why does Tokyo’s reputation as the world capital for youth street fashion hang in the balance? Here, designers, trendsetters and stylists discuss the root of the city’s newfound demure style and speculate about what could come next.


Just a year ago, the 16-year-old style star Mappy preferred brightly colored dirndl skirts, velvet dresses and platform heels, and would jump at the opportunity to shop. She now moseys through stores with an air of boredom, and relies on denim, simple tops, trenchcoats and camouflage cargo pants. “I feel like many more young people in Tokyo have become shy with fashion,” she said, blaming the new simple trend on social conformity. “Young fashionable people now only want to wear the same things as their friends.”

Yamagata feels this is the result of cyberbullying: “Because of social media, if you wear something really flashy, they kind of attack you, so people don’t want to be too flashy anymore. People in general, that’s one of the things we’ve noticed. The Internet bullying.”

A recent study conducted by Osaka University deduced that between 20 and 30 percent of Japanese high school students have been victims of cyberbullying, while another 8 percent admitted to bullying themselves. Those numbers are quickly rising by double-digit percentiles each year, according to multiple studies.

Said Sakabe: “Before, people wanted to be personal and have individual taste. But now, if you walk in Shibuya or Shinjuku wearing individual clothes, you feel ashamed. There is a sense of what’s correct or incorrect fashion.”


The present mood in Tokyo is glum. City centers, including Shibuya, have been ripped up for renewal. Dozens of cranes loom high in the city skyline — working in harried tandem to construct towers, train stations and department stores in preparation for the city’s 2020 Olympics. The Japanese government projects that the sporting event will boost the country’s economy by a total 32.3 trillion yen, or $284 billion, over the course of a decade.


Japan’s exported cute style Kawaii, as reported by WWD in Tokyo last year, is dwindling from the city’s style lexicon after decades of influence. The cultural phenomenon had infected everything from fashion to food and cleaning products. But as Kawaii loses its footing, a new movement has failed to take its place — leaving the city without a fringe cultural movement to push its fashion forward.

At a Kenzo event in May, a performance by the pop singer Kyary Pamyu Pamyu was evidence of this shift. The singer — who in 2012 was anointed Kawaii Ambassador of Harajuku by the Mayor of Shibuya — has been in rebranding mode as of late, “searching for her new thing,” according to a source. At the Kenzo event, Kyary wore a streamlined fuchsia dress to perform her Kawaii-era songs — as if held in a holding pattern between restraint and her prior brand of hyper-feminine expression.

Said Ambush cofounder Yoon Ahn: “The political and economic environment, it’s uncomfortable for them, but it’s not chaotic enough to push people to do crazy things. It’s in the middle — so they are doing what feels safe and comfortable.”

Fashion consultant Yusuke Koishi, who works closely with Comme des Garçons, noted of the ongoing shift: “As followers of Kawaii culture get older, and graduate school, the majority of them become absorbed into the conservative fashion mainstream. However, younger generations are following something different. I think Tokyo youth scenes may be in the middle of a chasm of transition.”


The transition Koishi speaks of could be the result of a slowed economy and the quick-change nature of fashion in the social media era.

With annual salaries in Japan either remaining stagnant or decreasing, spending among households of those under 25 years old has dropped by more than 30 percent since 2009, according to government data. More than 60 percent of high school students, university students and twentysomethings feel it more preferable to be viewed as frugal rather than spend-happy, according to a Dentsu Innovation Institute study. Less than 40 percent of Japanese Millennials are positive about their financial future, according to a study conducted by employment agency ManpowerGroup.

Wealth distribution has steadily decreased among the country’s middle class since the implementation of Shinzo Abe’s Abenomics policy, which relies on trickle-down economics as a mode of growth. Economists worry that this trend could see many middle-class households declining to a low-income classification.

The trend extends to consumption, with one source noting its effect on the Japanese fashion system. Explained Ahn: “In Japan, the middle class used to be a lot wider and this gray zone produced a lot of good, Japanese brands. Recently the economy has been going down, and fast fashion has pushed this old model out because of price. Fast fashion means that anyone can buy something and look decent. People got safer and safer, there isn’t as much of an effort to search for new and cool things.”

Social media has afforded the onetime isolated island nation a sense of inclusion — with Tokyo-ites now privy to a global pulse in real-time. The punk movement took a decade to reach the Japanese capital, making Tokyo its final counterculture stopover. But now, the Japanese adapt to visual trends in synchronicity with fashion boppers in London, Berlin or New York.

Ahn feels that this has had a negative effect on the unique fashions for which Japan was once known: “Because we are an island, people used to import ideas and make them better because there was a limited flow of information. Now with Instagram it’s easy to duplicate looks in real-time. People became lazier, and you see that throughout Asia.

“People used to get dressed-up to get noticed and have their photo taken. The Internet killed that — they don’t have to go on the street, now they can take a selfie and get more attention.”


Social media, as is similar in many other parts of the world, has desensitized the Japanese from luxury and consumption. A scroll through the Internet is a portal to luxury’s widespread distribution.

Said Sakabe: “Yesterday I went to Barneys New York in Roppongi. I didn’t want to buy anything, the clothes were like dead bodies for me. There are so many clothes and so many brands, but it’s always the same. No one wants to buy that, it’s just shop stuff. That’s not fashion.”

Even Kawaii, which started as a do-it-yourself subculture, has proliferated into an easily consumable movement, with shops dedicated to the cutesy aesthetic stationed in each mall — thus neutralizing its individualistic, subculture beginnings.

What comes next, according to fashion designer Noriko Nakazato, is an intellectualized fashion that cannot simply be purchased. As fashion continues to churn out product at a rapid clip, an intelligentsia approach to style has begun to appeal to those who seek a fashion that feels special.


Tokyo Street Fashion Gets the Blahs

Ashley Graham is naked again and we wouldn’t have it any other way

What better way to celebrate National Nude Day than with a naked snap on Instagram? That’s exactly what supermodel Ashley Graham did on Friday as she took to social media to share a sexy photo from her recent cover feature for ELLE France

Touted as a phenomenon who is revolutionizing body activism, the feature shoot showcases Ashley’s flawless figure. This particular black and white snap leaves little to the imagination, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 



#ellefr #nationalnudeday

A post shared by A S H L E Y G R A H A M (@theashleygraham) on Jul 14, 2017 at 4:16pm PDT

Despite having once told SwimDaily that she wouldn’t “do nip and bush,” the former SI Swimsuit cover model revised her stance on posing nude last month.

“You know, my thing is: If it’s vulgar, and it’s, like, me grabbing my breasts and showing nipple, I’m not going to do it,” Ashley explained when asked what’s changed. “When I said, ‘I don’t do nip and bush,’ I didn’t feel like I had to be specific as to what kind. So you might even see more nipple coming up. But trust me: You will never see my vagina!” 



Chinese Model Stuns the Internet For Looking Like a Living Anime Doll

More recently, the 25-year-old captivated new fans with her unique looks after her latest pictures went viral.

Her Instagram account, which she started back in 2013, now has over 460,000 followers, establishing her as a bona fide internet celebrity.

On the popular photo-sharing site, netizens from around the globe often liken her to a doll, reports SoraNews24. 

In her photos, she often highlights her porcelain skin and anime-like large eyes with makeup and trendy clothes completing her image of an actual living doll.

She does, however, have a certain preference to gothic fashion that provides a distinct contrasting look for her style.

Occasionally, she dons an anime cosplay attire, bringing almost any anime character to life with natural ease.

Shen, who obtained a bachelor’s degree in Fashion Marketing Management at the The Art Institute of California, Hollywood, once shared the secret to her large and mesmerizing eyes on YouTube via a makeup tutorial so her fans can also try achieving a similar look too.


Ashley Graham Shows the Best Bathing Suit Hack for Women With Bigger Chests

SWIM163_TK3_0970-rawWMFinal1920Ashley Graham is a model, body activist, designer, and author. What’s missing? Let’s add TV host to the mix. That’s right, Ms. Graham won’t just be gracing magazine covers anymore. Now you can watch her strut her stuff on the small screen on the regular. 

In case you’re unfamiliar, in 2016 Ashley Graham became the first plus-sized model to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Edition. Since then she went on to serve as the backstage host for Miss USA 2016 and then became the official judge of America’s Next Top Model. Seems like a lot, right? Not for this beauty. Graham is as busy as ever and is now letting us mere mortals take a glimpse into her fabulously hectic life on her new go90 series, The Ashley Graham Project.


The show features Graham jetting around the world, whether it be for the Met Gala or a photo shoot in LA for her new swimwear line. When she’s not showing us how to pose perfectly in a bikini or get red carpet ready, she’s showing us exactly how she crushes it in everyday life.