Business 26 June 2017
How many times have you been shopping, and let your mood or feelings get in the way of what, retrospectively, would have been a good buy?
Women are their own worst enemies when it comes to deciding what to wear - whether it's formal wear or gym gear, and this is mostly an issue of letting body confidence in between you and a good outfit.
With intimate knowledge of these decisions, and a lifetime's worth of research, Purva Gupta came up with an idea for an app that would help women utilize their emotions when buying. It would build an algorithm based on body positivity rather than body issues in order to promote body confidence and a happier shopping experience.
Gupta finalized her decision to build the app after interviewing tonnes of women (in over 10,000 hours worth of interview) on the street about their bodies and what makes the decision for them when buying clothes - and it was mostly, their faults, rather than their assets.
And therein, Lily was born.
Gupta's innovation coupled with her knowledge of women's insecurities have proved a winning combination, and since its launch, Lily has made waves in the tech and fashion worlds. Techies are heralding it as an app that "drives behavior never seen in the offline world" because Lily never stops working. It logs all searches and items clicked on to collate a broad view of what the user wants or likes, and forms opinions based on these results. It's like the best friend that comes shopping with you every time, but remembers exactly the shapes, colors, lengths and all other specifications you like.
Lily won Startup Conference's Best Startup award in Silicon Vally back in May and may well be 2017's most interesting invention for women, simply for its mission to promote self-esteem and body confidence above all else. It's currently working with a few curated retailers, ASOS among them, and hopes to keep expanding and adding different sources for all the lovely ladies of the Lily world. SWAAY spoke with Gupta about how her app can affect change for women's body confidence in a positive and empowering way.
Purva Gupta at Startup Conference
How does the app work?
To begin with, the app asks users a few quick questions about body type, style preferences and how they perceive their body- one example of a question Lily asks: “How would you describe your décolleté (that's French for chest — I'm very worldly!)?" Then it recommends clothes, as per what the user is looking for, from their favorite stores that will flatter their body & perceptions. With every like/dislike of the user, Lily learns and makes the next set of recommendations better. The level of detail that Lily understands, is almost impossible for a human stylist to understand from hundreds and thousands of products people browse on Lily. Lily is able to do so because our technology enables us to understand attributes in depth about every single item of clothing available on Lily.
Yet, Lily prides herself in making the woman understand how every single item of clothing recommended to her by Lily flatters her individual body type and minute details she shared with Lily, just like how a great human stylist would do. Yes, every single item, in real-time.
How is your app enabling women to feel better about themselves, more empowered?
Girls start recognizing themselves in the mirror at the age of two and from that time on, they start disliking parts of their body. In their teen years, they start developing perceptions about their body and making judgments about it (thighs, tummy etc.) -- usually negative -- relative to the physical appearance of their moms, friends and celebrities. As young adults, these translate into serious insecurities like, “I'm fat," “I'm not good enough," or “I'm less than others." To the effect that women in the US have 13 negative thoughts about their body every single day! Think about that. That's nearly 1 negative thought for every waking hour. Recent study by Dove & UN shows that 8 out of 10 girls with low-self esteem choose not to do something because they feel they don't look good enough.
It doesn't matter how these girls actually look -- because it's all about how they THINK they look! Their perception becomes their reality because their mind has been cultivating and reinforcing these negative self-images since a very young age.
At Lily, the definition of emotion we use is the perception gap between reality & expectation. When the gap is positive, there is confidence and when the gap is negative, there is insecurity. In the first few minutes of a user's interaction with Lily, we try to understand where the perception gaps lie for every part of the user's body. Lily asks how the user feels about her body — what parts she likes to accentuate and which ones she'd prefer to minimize — and then uses a complex matching algorithm to make recommendations.
"The power of this idea lies in the mix of science and organically ingraining positivity in their mindset every day."
How is Lily empowering women with trends this summer?
Lily understands everybody type, every minute detail she learns from the user and uses it to find clothes that will truly flatter the user's unique body and perceptions about her.
Ruffles, a (romantic summer) trend that adds volume and shape by highlighting specific parts of the body to create balanced proportions.
Oversized sleeves and romantic statement sleeves are very on trend for summer allowing women to de-emphasize their arms without wearing too much fabric.
Off-the-shoulder tops are one of the hottest trends too for someone de-emphasizing their arms and shoulders.
The relaxed fit is also very on trend which helps in camouflaging any extra pounds. Crochet/embroidered fabrics are on trend for summer with thicker fabric which is not as revealing.
And if you're still (inexplicably) unsure about downloading the app, head on over to their Twitter for some expert advice about body shapes, and what to wear for you this fine summer.
A playful crochet frill top adds volume & shape to the upper body. Pair it with a tailored ruffled skirt for the perfect summer ensemble!?? pic.twitter.com/gjnwakWH6N
— GetLilyApp (@getlilyapp) June 2, 2017
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Help! My Friend Is a No Show
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I have a friend who doesn't reply to my messages about meeting for dinner, etc. Although, last week I ran into her at a local restaurant of mine, it has always been awkward to be friends with her. Should I continue our friendship or discontinue it? We've been friends for a total four years and nothing has changed. I don't feel as comfortable with her as my other close friends, and I don't think I'll ever be able to reach that comfort zone in pure friendship.
Dear Sadsies,I am sorry to hear you've been neglected by your friend. You may already have the answer to your question, since you're evaluating the non-existing bond between yourself and your friend. However, I'll gladly affirm to you that a friendship that isn't reciprocated is not a good friendship.
I have had a similar situation with a friend whom I'd grown up with but who was also consistently a very negative person, a true Debby Downer. One day, I just had enough of her criticism and vitriol. I stopped making excuses for her and dumped her. It was a great decision and I haven't looked back. With that in mind, it could be possible that something has changed in your friend's life, but it's insignificant if she isn't responding to you. It's time to dump her and spend your energy where it's appreciated. Don't dwell on this friend. History is not enough to create a lasting bond, it only means just that—you and your friend have history—so let her be history!
- The Armchair Psychologist