Silverstone’s character in the 1995 chick flick
"Clueless" had the right idea: Let a computer
program pick out your outfits so you never have to
stress about what to wear again.
there’s an app for that, thanks to software engineer
and Carnegie Mellon University grad Henry Kang.
San Mateo, Calif.-based company Peekabuy is behind
StyleIt, an iOS-compatible app that suggests outfits for
women based on pieces already in their closet. The China
native, now in his early 30s, came up with the concept a
few years ago while he was a doctoral student at CMU and
his wife, Shawna Shu, also from China, was studying at
morning she would repeat the same question," he
says. "‘What can I wear today?’"
was his a-ha moment, he says, that made him decide to
apply his research to coming up with a 21st-century
version of the "Clueless" wardrobe builder.
how it works: Download the app and take a photo of a
piece of clothing you own. Within three seconds the app
will pull available items from more than 450 retailers
such as Macy’s, Nordstrom and American Eagle to curate
10 different outfits to go with the photographed piece.
If a user likes the suggestions, she can purchase them
through the app, and Kang’s business earns a
commission for the sale. If it’s not to her taste, she
can swap the selections for new ones.
there are lots of apps out there that aim to help women
maximize their wardrobe, the technology behind StyleIt
and the speed at which it functions are what make it
technical difficulty of what he is doing is
significant," says Martial Hebert, a Carnegie
Mellon University professor and the director of its
Robotics Institute who served as one of Kang’s Ph.D.
make the outfit suggestions, the app crawls thousands of
fashion blogs and uses algorithms to master how these
experts approach style and put together ensembles. The
app also learns more about what’s on trend based on
how users interact with it, Kang says.
and professors from CMU have supported him along the
way. Kang has worked with a few other CMU grads as the
app has evolved, and his company’s first investment
came from another one of his advisers, Takeo Kanade, a
professor and former director of the Robotics Institute.
StyleIt has acquired a strong following among current
CMU students, too, Kang says.
fashion and tech industries also have taken notice. The
startup has been spotlighted by Wired.com, Yahoo Style
and CNBC and was featured as one of the best new apps in
the Apple App Store. And StyleIt is just getting
started, Kang says. He has big visions for the app,
including an Android adaptation and eventually the
ability to offer fashion tips for men, too.
at different ages always have the need for style,"
he says. "It can really impact a lot of