Fashion might not save the world, but it can be a creative outlet that gives you the confidence to improve your life. That’s the ethos behind WearToday, built by veteran Facebook product designer and eccentric dresser Alexandre Roche. Launching today on iOS in invite-only beta, WearToday lets you photograph your current outfit, ID your clothes and share full-body shots with tags of your threads.
Roche dropped out of college to work at Facebook where he worked on the now-defunct Listen With Friends music feature, as well as Facebook Questions, the search typeahead, friends lists, and privacy. After quitting in February 2012 and taking some time off, he tells me he became enthralled with cheap, outlandish vintage clothes because “you buy something you think you could never wear but then you do!”
Roche noticed people were sharing a lot of outfits to Instagram, but the square format and lack of metadata about names and brands made it less than ideal. So together with his dad, also a snazzy dresser and the head of Dogbook, they came up with WearToday. It’s a community where people don’t have to feel shy about sharing their outfits.
You sign up (on the wait list as it’s currently invite-only) for WearToday with your phone number and Instagram account, which helps you find friends to follow. The app also suggests some stylish folks to follow for inspiration. Each time someone you follow posts a new outfit, you get a push notification.
To post to WearToday, you stand up your phone, start the camera’s 10-second timer, and take a long-distance head-to-toe selfie. You can snap multiple takes if necessary and choose the best pic. Then you tag the different parts of your outfit with brands and Foursquare store locations using a smart little auto-crop tool that homes in on your shoes, shirt, or whatever. When you post to WearToday, Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook, the photo shows you all suited up on the left and the tags on the right.
If it gets that far, WearToday could monetize by linking you through to buy the outfits you see in the app, or maybe offering on-demand fashion consulting.
For a bootstrapped v1, WearToday feels pretty slick, but there are some big issues. Push notifications work at invite-only scale, but could get very noisy if WearToday becomes popular, and there’s no way to mute certain people.
It’s pretty damn tough to get a good photo of yourself since WearToday uses the iPhone’s higher-def rear camera and you can’t see yourself. Each shot takes 10 seconds so it’s slow to keep shooting until you get it right. You can’t enter a text description of your clothing items, and have to tag at least a brand or location which isn’t always available, like if it’s some handcrafted piece of jewelry from a craft fair.
WearToday’s biggest challenge will be proving to people the value of a dedicated outfit-sharing app. Other vertical-specific photo apps like Justin Bieber’s selfie sharer Shots Of Me have tanked as people just end up using Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to share. Plus there are already fewer mobile-first fashion photo startups like OutfitHive, Netrobe, Stylebook, and most notably Cloth. WearToday will have to beat the odds and focus on strong attention to detail, an easier outfit-sharing flow and loyalty from fashionistas if it’s going to survive.
Roche tells me sharing on WearToday matters because “It’s an expression of who you are. It’s an expression of how we feel independent of one another. I think encouraging people to be creative is a really good thing.”
Still, it’s easy to deride WearToday as one of those small-minded Silicon Valley startups no one needs. “Another photo sharing app? Uggh.” And yes, from one perspective the whole thing is silly and likely to fail.
But have you ever felt that rush of confidence when you’re decked out in a fresh outfit you love? It’s the feeling that lets you create your own luck, win the girl, nail the interview, or just feel happy. When you wear something that captures your identity, you attract people who like you for the real you. If the app can inspire us to express who we are on the inside, WearToday could do some good. Even if it’s as silly as Roche’s outfits.