Covid has disrupted lives and livelihoods, but for some lucky businesspeople, this time represents opportunity just as much as it represents a challenge. For the new shopping app The Yes, postponing the original March launch day to May 20 lent an opportunity to Beta test what customers are looking for in the midst of a time when shoppers are approaching things differently than ever before. The app allows you to discover pieces instead of seeking them out: Like Tinder or Bumble for dating, after an initial quiz on your taste, The Yes lets you say “yes” or “no” to items and brands, further curating your options with every decision you make.
I had the opportunity to test out The Yes ahead of its launch, beginning with an initial quiz to get a feel for my style, and then to spend a week “yes-ing” and “no-ing” recommended items as the algorithms did their magic, curating items based on my personal taste, and suggesting boarded over 150 labels, including a number that I usually find myself seeking out, from Everlane and Zara to on-the-rise labels like Simon Miller, Staud, and Khaite, to luxury heavy-hitters like Gucci and Prada. It’s designed to know which brands run small or large, and based on your input on the lines you think fit you best, it can even estimate if you need to stray from your usual sizing. The interface is simple and streamlined, and there’s a straightforward search functionality that allows you to shop by trend or brand.
While The Yes price matches, and you can filter by desired price range, it doesn’t have the same sorting options you may be used to. “The idea is not to sort from high to low, but to be able to find what you’re looking for because it’s closest to your style preferences,” says Lisa Green, the SVP of Brand Partnerships. “We know that shopper often defaults to these functions because there’s no other way to narrow down what they’re seeing. On The Yes, they won’t need to rely on those because the results are already sorted by what they are most likely to buy right on top.”
The Yes’ co-founder and CEO Julie Bornstein comes from another tech-minded fashion giant: Stitch Fix; while co-founder Amit Aggarwal is a Google and Groupon alum. The Yes also tapped Taylor Tomasi Hill to be the Creative and Fashion Director of the new shopping platform. Combining their expertise and a very specific vision of who their shopper is — and what she is looking for — The Yes will continue to grow slowly and thoughtfully based on, you guessed it, the data.
Unlike stores like Shopbop or Net-A-Porter, which you buy directly from, each brand you buy will handle the shipping of products. But The Yes streamlines the buying process and aims to make shopping more intuitive — and yes, also fun. “The hypothesis is that shoppers can find what they want and love faster and more easily versus scrolling through tons of pages that are seen by every shopper,” explains Green. Instead of manually sorting for newest, most popular, or lowest price, the app’s own processes are intended to sort the pieces it deems most interesting to you at the top of the feed.
In trying to plug in my own usual online shopping habits and immediately sorting by price or newest arrivals, I wasn’t letting the AI do its magic. Instead, it leads shoppers like myself to discover new brands, and using my own habits to refine a homepage and my “Yes” page, a mood-board like curation of the items I’m eyeing for future purchase. While this integrative technology may never replace the in-person experience of trying something on, it aims to make the digital experience one that instead of leaving you exhausted, inspires you and takes the guesswork out of purchasing and in the end introduce you to brands and trends you may not have realized were a fit for your style. And since my feed is one entirely different than any other shopper, I’m able to hone in on forever pieces that are a fit for my closet, instead of ending up scrolling through the same new arrivals pages as my friends.