FINESSE Is the Innovative New Brand Using Artificial Intelligence To Disrupt Fashion
HYPEBAE spoke to CEO Ramin Ahmari about his vision for the newly launched platform.
Ever wish Cher Horowitz’s virtual closet existed beyond the fictional realm of Clueless? Now, it does. FINESSE is the newly launched brand using artificial intelligence to predict trends, reduce fabric waste and deliver customers perfectly coordinated outfits at just-right prices.
Before actually producing anything, FINESSE uses proprietary algorithms and machine learning technology to analyze fashion trends across the internet. “We look at fashion in the same way an economist or hedge fund trader would [look at stocks],” CEO Ramin Ahmari says. “What are the signals that predict this stock — or fashion item — will be going up to record highs, and what are the chances it will underperform?” From there, the brand ideates three potential drops — coordinated outfits that incorporate what’s trending across the industry — that shoppers then vote on. (Examples of fan-favorite drops include the Maddy, an ensemble inspired by Maddy Perez of Euphoria, and the Bella, an all-white fit taking cues from Bella Hadid‘s street style.) The pick with the most votes goes into production while the other two are scrapped, cutting down on fabric waste. The entire process takes less than 25 days, a shockingly speedy turnaround time that puts Zara and H&M to shame.
Ahmari, who is queer and non-binary, launched FINESSE in a quest to reclaim his identity. “My narrative [was] consistently taken out of my hands by labels that were forced upon me,” the founder, who studied computer science and art history at Stanford, explains. “Fashion was my way of regaining control over that narrative. I would wear baggy jeans and oversized hoodies to fit in with the straight guys when I wasn’t ready to come out yet. Eventually, I got older and would browse the female section, allowing me to explore my femininity when I was ready to,” he reflects, adding the fashion is a powerful tool for self-determination. Seeking to remedy the rigid binaries that clothing often promotes, all FINESSE drops are unisex (though the brand’s website mostly features female models). In addition, the company’s board is comprised entirely by people of color, and over 75 percent of FINESSE employees belong to minority communities. “Most of fashion today has been told from a specifically white male gaze. True equality and diversity has to start from the very root of an organization,” Ahmari advocates, expounding on values that are unapologetically expressed on the label’s Instagram. After the Capitol riots, the brand quickly denounced white supremacy. On the day of Joe Biden‘s presidential inauguration, it celebrated the end of Donald Trump’s term. The company’s outspokenness is refreshing, especially considering it is backed by major investors including Hoxton Ventures and Mango Capital.
“Mainstream fashion has absolutely no idea about what will sell, so they play it safe and produce everything under the sun. Our focus at FINESSE is to eliminate this outrageous inefficiency.”
Though FINESSE may seem like a fast fashion brand, it aims to revise the wasteful and often unethical practices the industry at large operates on. By only producing what its customers want — i.e. the most voted-on drop — and using 3D-modeled samples during the early stages of garment development, it reduces fabric waste and streamlines the production pipeline. “Mainstream fashion has absolutely no idea about what will sell, so they play it safe and produce everything under the sun,” Ahmari states. “Our focus at FINESSE is to eliminate this outrageous inefficiency. We produce only what we know will sell, and we pre-estimate carefully how much demand there is based on data.” In turn, the company saves money by producing such a curated range of items, allowing it to sell drops at accessible price points. Most drops, which include about three items, are sold in sets that retail at approximately $100 USD. Individual pieces average at about $30 USD.
Getting into the nitty gritty of its production methods, Ahmari explains that the brand works with just three factories in China. “We have vetted these factories thoroughly to make sure they are both ethical and invested in innovation. Our main manufacturer is particularly invested in the use of 3D renderings to improve the production process. They have seen first-hand how archaic the industry is, and are fed up by large fashion houses commandeering them to output at all costs,” the CEO says. Considering FINESSE’s incredibly affordable prices, it’s worth noting that the brand likely isn’t using the highest-quality materials. The founder acknowledges the need to explore more sustainable alternatives, as well as the possibility of working with fabric mills once the company hits scale (after all, it just launched today). In addition, FINESSE has plans to push out a recycling and up-cycling initiative in the next few months. “There is so much you can do with garments if you’re given the right tools,” Ahmari hints.