What started as a senior-year capstone project at University of Colorado Boulder has now turned into a full-fledged fashion-focused app that founder Rohan Baishya and his small but motivated team have worked tirelessly on to launch by the end of the summer. PAIR Stylist works as a personal stylist for any and all users, helping them pick and style outfits from items they already have in their wardrobe.
The soon-to-be-released app uses receipt scanning and visual recognition to categorize apparel, footwear and accessories through your phone’s camera and then compiles and displays a virtual wardrobe you can access anywhere at any time. By simply taking photos of your wardrobe, the app tells you how to match outfits and offers options to purchase items you don’t have.
All of this came from the desire to dress well, no matter the situation Baishya found himself in. As a cancer survivor and someone who is colorblind, Baishya started thinking of fashion as more than a form of self-expression. It became a skill he learned and later utilized to create his very own business. Although the app is not yet available, the website is live and users can learn more about the app and even get early access to it. 303 Magazine spoke with Baishya about his journey in creating the app, why he always wants to dress the part and how PAIR Stylist will democratize the fashion world.
303 Magazine: Tell me your story and where your interest in fashion began.
Rohan Baishya: Growing up, it was always important for me to look good. Especially as a bald cancer survivor in atrocious physical shape, I put particular emphasis on always dressing well. I took pride in being fashionable, as clothing and how I styled it were the only things about how I looked that I had control over at that time. And so I always put in the work to dress well regardless of if I was going to school, out with friends or even on trips to the grocery store with my parents. This interest eventually evolved into making sure I stayed up to date on current fashion trends, knowing how to match clothing to create these trendy looks and taking the time to shop for the right items to best express myself while remaining fashionable. I quickly learned that fashion is more than a form of self-expression – it’s also a skill, one that stylists master and personalize for others.
I’m actually also colorblind, so as a younger child I’d always put on ridiculously wacky outfits with the most mismatched colors and get ready to go to out. My mom in turn would tell me that I look like a clown and layout an outfit for me to wear instead. I quickly realized that she couldn’t keep laying out clothes for me to wear forever; I wanted a personal stylist. But the thing with a personal stylist is that they’re not accessible to everyone and are often not cheap. We see the rich and famous wear the hottest new fashion trends personalized to their style and want that same feeling of luxury. So, since I couldn’t have a personal stylist, I decided to build one with artificial intelligence – that’s how I came up with the concept of PAIR. At PAIR we want to give everyone a free, accessible personal stylist, effectively democratizing fashion, because everyone deserves a stylist.
303: When did PAIR Stylist begin? How long has it been up and running?
RB: I’ve held onto the idea for PAIR since early 2018, but the idea came to fruition during my Business Minor Capstone course at CU Boulder as an undergrad. We created our business plan for the idea in that class, and actually won our class business plan competition with it, as well as won 3rd place campus-wide. Two of my group members in the class, Maura and Cameron, stayed on as co-founders along with myself and another co-founder William, as we decided to go through with executing our business plan and building our product. We opened our doors in January of this year and have been making speedy progress since!
We just recently launched our digital marketing campaign and are finalizing our product’s first beta release, set to be featured in Catalyze CU’s demo day towards the end of this summer! To sign up to get early access to the free beta this summer, visit www.pairstylist.com. We will be releasing our beta to a couple thousand users at a time until our full product launches on the App Store towards the end of this year.
303: Did you always envision PAIR Stylist as an app or did you consider other platforms in beginning stages?
RB: I always pictured PAIR as an app, and the reason for that is because our phones are the one thing we always have on us, and anything that markets itself as “accessible” should be a tap away. Personal stylists look at the items in our closet and pair things together, as well as recommend additions to our closet to purchase that match what they see in our closets. We figured that a phone’s camera can serve as the eyes of the stylist, our AI is the brain that pairs and recommends outfits and clothing items while staying up-to-date on current fashion trends, and the phone screen doesn’t just tell users how to style themselves, but shows them exactly how to recreate the looks that they like, personalized to their style preferences.
303: Why do you think it was important for you to have your own business as opposed to working for someone else?
RB: Of course there are many perks to working for my own company versus another’s. These include being able to pursue my own passion for helping people look the best they can while democratizing fashion and personalized styling, not having a limit on how much we can make and be valued at, not having to answer to a boss myself while creating objectives of value for the company and its employees, as well as the sheer challenge and skill-building opportunity that growing your own startup offers that no other job can quite parallel.
But I think the best part of creating my own business has been the incredibly talented, ambitious, and conscientious people I’ve met, networked, worked with and been mentored by. There’s no feeling quite like finding the right person for the job and watching them shine when given the opportunity. And the best part? The company grows as the people who put their time and energy into it grow. The blood, sweat and tears of these people go into engineering and marketing our product and every day I’m inspired by them to work even harder in the pursuit of perfection for PAIR.
303: What can users expect from their first time using the app?
RB: When a user first signs up for PAIR, we take them through a brief, entirely visual introductory quiz to identify the styles, outfits, and brands they prefer for different occasions and day-to-day wear, which we then use as data for our AI stylist feature. The AI stylist feature will be available in our beta, and it has two integral functions: showing a user how they can pair/style certain clothing items and recommending new clothing items that match what’s in their closet to help them recreate the outfits and styles our stylist shows them that they like!
303: What have you found to be the biggest challenge of working in the fashion industry and styling specifically?
RB: Like I said before, personalization is key to a stylist, artificially intelligent or not, being stellar at what they do. And while it is my favorite part of PAIR, it was definitely our biggest challenge figuring out how best to personalize its recommendations to a user. At the same time, after a lot of debugging and data-driven machine learning algorithm development, I believe personalization is now our biggest advantage. Being artificially intelligent, our stylist can remember every single outfit and clothing item you have or like to predict your style and is able to use all of that aggregate data to give you the best possible recommendations for any occasion.
303: What are the ways you incorporate your background in fashion and styling into your everyday life?
RB: As the CEO of a fashion company, I definitely feel like I have to look the part wherever I go. It’s for the brand! But all jokes aside, I love dressing well, even if it’s the most casual of looks. Not just because I want to look nice for others, but because studies have shown that dressing well improves self- esteem and self-image, and in turn, even our performance and productivity is boosted by dressing well in a variety of categories from test-taking, to presentations. I can say firsthand that it’s true: look good, feel great, perform excellently!
303: What do you hope for the future of PAIR Virtual Stylist? And can you tell us about any upcoming projects your currently working on?
RB: PAIR was built to optimize peoples’ wardrobes and democratize fashion because everyone deserves a stylist. Our vision stems from this idea. We envision PAIR being the go-to tool for everyone when they need advice on putting together a fresh outfit, or when they want quality recommendations when shopping for clothes that are sure to help them create looks tailored to their every style need, and we’ll always keep innovating to suit the needs of our users as they express themselves through the ever-changing landscape that is fashion!
The full version of our application post-beta, and some future features we are working on, include users being able to take pictures of their own outfits and our AI stylist giving them a breakdown on how fashionable/trendy it is and advice on how to improve their look; user wardrobe integration so stylist-generated outfits can be limited to only the items in a user’s closet; and a “Recommended For You” feature which would feature personalized outfits, looks and clothing items our AI stylist believes would fit seamlessly with user’s wardrobes and style preferences. We can’t wait for our app to be available to everyone after we launch, as we revolutionize the fashion-tech industry.
All Photography provided by Glynnis Murphy