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Miki Turtel

Mar 22, 2024


Cate Bennett

We constantly hear the murmurs and the uproar of the new biggest trends— what's coming and going, who to follow, and who's relevant. It's constantly changing, but one thing is constant.

In every sphere of life, we are hearing buzz about generative AI. What can it do? Who will it replace? We hear about fabulous new technology constantly, and now it's breaking into contemporary life, specifically fashion. Generative AI in fashion has sparked both excitement and controversy as it’s altering the industry as we know it.

It presents a revolutionary tool for designers to explore new creative avenues, streamline design processes, and prevent overproduction by only creating what is needed. While the advantages seem endless, there have been questions about who benefits from this potential switch. It threatens the authenticity of designers and those involved in the creative process and leads to uncertainty from the consumer.

Traditionally, fashion has thrived on the unique perspectives and personal touches of designers, who infuse their creations with a distinct touch. With generative AI, there's a risk that the creative output becomes algorithmically determined, diluting the genuine touch that designers bring to their work. Designers may find themselves grappling with a newfound challenge – distinguishing their authentic voice amid the generated designs. This not only jeopardizes the individuality of designers but also raises questions about the industry's ability to foster and celebrate true creative expression in the face of technological intrusion. We also must consider the jobs that go into the creative process. AI has the potential to save companies money but at the potential cost of employees’ livelihoods.

According to an analysis done by McKinsey, as much as ¼ of generative AI’s value in fashion came from applications in design and product development. Holding these same values true, we can look through a different lens and prioritize human skill and creativity. Rather than diminishing unique designers’ perspectives, gen AI can amplify designers by freeing them from tedious tasks, allowing them to focus on their creative roles. Human designers can remain paramount if gen AI is applied properly, and can enable their roles to be orientated around curation, which can't be done by AI (yet). This aspect must be assessed when evaluating AI in fashion to ensure the technology is adopted without undermining the role of the designer.

Fashion labels Collina Strada and Heliot Emil have embraced generative AI for their Spring/Summer 2024 collection, using the technology to produce fresh designs by inputting text and images of past looks into a gen AI tool. Revolve, an online retailer, also utilized this technology for ad campaigns and released a limited capsule collection featuring garments that were AI-generated. These are just a few of the many examples that arise every day of how brands are benefiting from the integration of AI into their work.

AiDA (AI-based Interactive Design Assistant), has demonstrated its capacity to drastically reduce manual tasks in the fashion sector. AiDA can reportedly generate a dozen fashion templates in just 10 seconds by uploading sketches, materials, and color palettes to a virtual mood board. The integration of gen AI in the fashion industry not only expedites design processes but also introduces new avenues for creative expression and operational efficiency.

Beyond the studio, the adoption of generative AI introduces a layer of uncertainty for consumers. We trust that what we see online is genuine; the products we are purchasing have to be fairly evaluated. The measurements, fit, and quality cannot be electronically replicated, providing an extra layer of doubt about what the consumer is spending their hard-earned money on. Brand loyalty is real. Consumers have long embraced the emotional connection formed with their favorite brands, admiring the unique vision and values they represent.

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