Last week I launched Fantom ‘fit, a website for the project I’ve been working on all semester as part of an entrepreneurial journalism class with Adam Penenberg.
The idea is based on a reoccurring problem. I’m inspired by high fashion glossies just like the next design-obsessed woman, but I’m living on a Campbell’s-soup-grad-school-budget. When I see something I actually want to buy, it’s not in a magazine, it’s on the street.
The problem is there are only two ways to figure out what it is. You can ask. But you might be too embarrassed or (especially in New York) people won’t want to tell you where they scored their unique clothes because they don’t want you biting their style. The second option is to search online, but that’s usually a big time suck, personally I rarely find what I’m looking for.
It turns out I wasn’t the only one with this problem. The team from the Lean Start-up Machine had us test our customer assumptions out on the street and of the over 20 people we asked, every single one of them had this problem.
The solution I developed is now functioning as a Twitter account and a blog, both called Fantom ‘fit, where followers can tweet or email photos of items they see out on the streets that they want to purchase for themselves. I RT and post the photo on the blog to see if anyone else can identify it while I get to work doing my own research. If no one can find it in a week (users can also debate in the comments section and give tips on whether they think it’s vintage or one-of-a-kind) , the post will be updated with alternative and similar items.
Here’s how it works:
See. It’s like magic minus the messy fairy dust. The skirt, available at Urban Outfitters, was found thanks to a savvy Twitter follower. I had done my own searching, punching in every linguistic variation of “midi teal cheetah print skirt” the English language had to offer, only to turn up tens of thousands of results, none of them correct. Once again, the human eye triumphs over computers! This sort of image labeling is how Google Images improved their labeling system and now scientists are even using it to identify solar storm data.
I’m hard at work to expand this into a website with a forum and galleries. I’m going to build a web app to make the service convenient and portable. Eventually, users will get rewards for identifying objects in photos that can be redeemed in an online shop or at retailers worldwide. My hope is that users will be able to rack up points and build a reputation and connect with other stylists and fashion-savvy street-style spotters from around the globe.
Right now you can help me in several ways. Check out the website and let me know what you think. This baby is still, well, a baby. All feedback is welcome. I am a team of one right now, making it all the easier to pivot if need be. Also, please follow Fantom ‘fit on Twitter and send in your photos! The more followers it has, the better the chances the photos people are tweeting will be identified. I promise, this account WILL NOT spam you. Lastly, please tell anyone you think might be interested in this project. Tweet about it, post it on your Facebook. This site is especially geared toward fashion-lovers, photographers, bloggers, stylists, designers… anyone who has a keen eye for fashion and style.