Online Retailer of the Week: Kaleidoscope

kaleidoscope screenshot

Retailers across the board have created stylish editorial components to inspire shoppers, but how about a program that independently draws on real-world sartorial inspiration in order to bring about the shopping?  Kaleidoscope, a new app from the tech start-up Inporia, seeks to do just that.

A sampling of shoppable street and Fashion Week photography on Kaleidoscope.

Ryan Junee, one of Inporia’s co-founders, explains that the company’s vision “is to create an entirely new way of shopping for clothes online, by being inspired by outfits from people around the world and then being able to very easily buy the items in those outfits.  This is much more akin to how people discover new fashion in the real world, as opposed to typing keywords into a text box and hoping something good appears in the results.  We’ve settled for this ‘old way’ of shopping for far too long.  It was invented by engineers at Amazon, and has served us well so far, but it’s time for something better.”  Are you intrigued yet?  We certainly are.

The app just launched for Android and will be available on the iPhone soon.  Combining a homepage of both street style photography and editorial fashion, Kaleidoscope lures in users with high entertainment value.  Then it gets down to business by making that entertainment totally shoppable — clicking “shop this look” breaks down an outfit’s components and brings in a range of similar items from across the web.  Though they aren’t official partners, clothing and accessories are linked to from retailers like Net-a-Porter, Shopbop, Asos, and Bergdorf Goodman.  Lest anything sell out, the app’s technology is set to update product listings accordingly.

A corresponding widget is also in the pipeline.  During Fashion Week, the widget will offer a real-time, shoppable feed of pictures of the shows, the attendees, and the parties.

Here, street style broken down into shoppable categories.

While the app will continue to prioritize editorial and street photography as the first thing users see, in the near future Junee says that they’ll “also allow brands to sponsor certain outfits and products so they appear higher in the list of results (but only if they are relevant to you – we definitely do not want Kaleidoscope to become spammy or look like a store catalog).”  In addition, the Kaleidoscope experience will continue to be refined and personalized so that users will eventually be able to see outfits specifically tailored to their personal style.

With myriad fashion-tech hybrids emerging, we asked Junee what goes into making this kind of start-up successful.  Junee pointed out the simultaneous importance and difficulty of building “a team who understands the subtleties of how the fashion business works, and also has the technical chops to build complex algorithms using machine learning and computer vision.”  Having such a team in place, and predicated on a cool one-stop shop for efficient sartorial inspiration, we’re definitely impressed — the relatively young Kaleidoscope could become a major player as mobile shopping continues to take off.

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