How many times have you spotted someone wearing a fabulous pair of shoes, but have no clue where to buy them? Those days are over, thanks to the launch of a new fashion application called ASAP54, which allows users to search and buy an item by simply uploading a single picture.
The app is the brainchild of fashion lover and technology whiz Daniela Cecilio, the former COO of online shopping platform Farfetch.com Born and raised in Brazil, she launched her own fashion label when she was 24, selling vintage-inspired dresses.
In 2006 she moved to London, where she worked at a shoe label, before eventually landing a job at Farfetch, which introduced her to the digital world. At Farfetch, she was responsible for the e-tailers international projects and launching the site in new markets such as Brazil.
The idea for ASAP54 came to her while she was looking for a pair of sunglasses online.
"I am a shopaholic. I shop every day and get inspiration from Instagram or Pinterest. I wanted a pair of Chanel pearl sunglasses, so I went to Google, typed it in and all this rubbish came up. It took me 90 minutes to find the pair I wanted. All I could think was, 'There must be an easier way to do this,'" says the 34-year-old.
Cecilio was already familiar with aggregate shopping sites such as shopstyle.com But she wanted to take the idea to the next level by allowing users to search for a product by using a series of images instead of keywords, and later purchasing it within the same application.
"No one was doing image recognition, so we developed the technology in-house. I left Farfetch in January last year and, by November, we released the first version of the app for testing. It took six to seven months to build," she says.
ASAP is driven by images. Users can take a picture of anything, be it an actual object, texture or painting, which they then upload to the application.
In a few seconds, users will be presented with 20 matches that are available from one of ASAP's 300 retail partners, which include Lane Crawford, J. Crew, net-a-porter, Topshop, Nasty Gal and Forever 21.
Once the search is complete, the picture that was uploaded, along with the results, will be shared on a social feed.
"The social aspect adds a new dimension which you don't find on other apps. If you don't know what to search you can follow people and see what they are buying. Everything is 'shopable'," says Cecilio.
The application also offers the services of a team of personal stylists who can also manually search the web on your behalf to find a specific item. Cecilio says they will respond within 24 hours, and 99 per cent of the time they are able to locate the same item.
They will also suggest up to four alternatives. For now the service is free, but it may come at a small cost later.
The number of ASAP54 users has tripled since it launched in February with about 100,000 signing up. Cecilio plans to grow operations even further - they have 20 people spread over three offices in Portugal, Germany and London, working on perfecting the technology and incorporating feeds from their retail partners on a daily basis.
"One thing that surprised me is how creative people have been - I thought they would only take pictures of fashion items, but people have uploaded art, and even landscapes. It goes to show that the entry points to search for fashion can be anything.
"Until now, there's been nothing there that allows them to take a picture of a horse and find a top that would match its colour. And this happens in a matter of seconds, without using words," she says.
This month, Cecilio plans to introduce a new feature to the app called the image browsing which allows users to search deeper into the application
She hopes to combine the user experience both online and offline, while launching language-specific versions in new markets like China.
"At the moment the outcome is only online, but I want to combine online and offline. The future of retail will always be a combination - this generation wants it all."