An algorithm can help you shop the entire wardrobe from “House of Cards”

You can buy Claire Underwood’s dress, but you can’t buy her raw, cutthroat ambition.
You can buy Claire Underwood’s dress, but you can’t buy her raw, cutthroat ambition.
Image: Courtesy of LookLive.com
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As hit series always do, the Netflix show House of Cards, which returns today with the release of its third season, has spawned a wide array of merchandise: t-shirts, mugs, digital paintings of its star, Kevin Spacey, and, of course, cards.

If what you really want, however, are the main character Frank Underwood’s natty suits or his wife Claire Underwood’s sleek, understated dresses, the new website LookLive.com has you covered. The Amsterdam-based startup uses artificial intelligence to identify what the characters are wearing, scene by scene, and provides links to websites where you can buy the clothes. It also shows lower-priced ways to get the same look.

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Shopping on LookLive.com
Image: Courtesy of LookLive.com

LookLive CEO Chris Archer tells Quartz that accuracy is critical to the business, so the clothes are identified using an algorithm. Archer founded LookLive with CTO Gerbert Kaandorp, who holds a degree in artificial intelligence from the University of Amsterdam. 

“We’re a technology company,” Archer tells Quartz. “What indexes the clothes is more machine-learning-based artificial intelligence, rather than human curation.”

To make sure the company offers the same items that appear on the show, a real live person double-checks the algorithm’s selections visually. “Humans that verify the predictions from the artificial intelligence are given very specific instruction: If you’re not sure, don’t publish it,” Archer says.

In addition to House of Cards, LookLive covers 11 different shows, including Modern FamilyScandal, and Empire. They also monitor paparazzi shots of 50 celebrities. Once they commit to a show or person, Archer says, no image gets by them.

“Once we cover a TV show, or we cover a celebrity, we’re covering all of their content, not necessarily cherry-picking our favorite images,” he says. “If Beyoncé is photographed tomorrow, then we’re covering Beyoncé.”

The site has been live for less than two weeks. Archer declined to say how many visitors the site has seen, but says so far 30% of visitors are returning daily.

After today’s online release of House of Cards, this will be a busy day at LookLive: With no advance screeners, his staff will scramble to add outfits from all 13 episodes. Archer says his website can have the clothes from the first quarter of House of Cards’ new season live on the site by the end of today, and the remainder by next week.

The site has no partnership or affiliation with any US broadcasters or with Netflix. (Quartz has contacted Netflix for comment and will update this post if with any response.) LookLive is actively pursuing co-promotional deals, but nothing has come to fruition yet, Archer said.

For the networks, selling the items featured in their shows can offer a huge revenue opportunity, one they understandably might prefer to keep to themselves, rather than share. Fox is already at work selling products featured on many of its shows, including including this handsome kitten-rainbow-butterfly t-shirt from the sitcom The Mindy Project.

Viewers won’t be able to shop the wardrobes of every character in House of Cards. LookLive is focusing on the main roles: Frank and Claire Underwood, the lobbyist Remy Danton, House Majority Whip Jackie Sharp, and probably the hacker Gavin Orsay.

One character, chief of staff Doug Stamper, ended last season in a somewhat precarious situation, so his clothing this season may or may not come into play. “I haven’t prioritized Doug in my AI,” says Archer. “But we’ll also probably see a bit of Doug—assuming that Doug is still alive.”