Fashion-Forward With AI

Fashion-Forward With AI

Artificial Intelligence is, for lack of a better word, a doozy. In 2023, we are standing in the fog of our cumulative feelings about integrating AI into our lives - where is its place? How do we discover its advantages and limitations? Where is our boundary, as humans? 

The unknown is always a little unsettling and takes a while to build trust. But we won’t be diving into any philosophical concepts about AI (at least this week!) We want to talk about sustainability again. AI has the potential to play a significant role in contributing to sustainability practices in the fashion industry, and we’re pretty excited about some of the prospects.

Who Made My Clothes?

Many brands, fast-fashion in particular, are feeling the heat of bad PR exposure due to dangerous practices. As a slow-fashion brand, we take extra steps to ensure that we are able to source cleanly and responsibly at every corner. The process of finding wholly transparent manufacturers, however, is a long one. 

AI-powered systems can track raw materials and products throughout the supply chain, providing real-time visibility. This transparency helps identify inefficiencies and unethical practices, promoting better sourcing decisions and reducing the environmental and social impact. Its system can better regulate manufacturer’s ethical practices, as well as identify potential issues. 

AI’s capabilities allow designers to connect with manufacturers that match their sensibilities, as well as allow manufacturers to better their making process. By promoting sustainable sourcing, fashion brands can encourage responsible practices across the industry.

Democratized and Ahead of the Curve.

AI algorithms can analyze a wide range of data sources, including social media, fashion websites, blogs, online forums, and more. Systems like LykDat, a reverse imaging tool, help identify emerging styles, popular colors, and patterns, as well as consumer preferences and sentiment. Traditional trend forecasting relied heavily on human intuition and historical data analysis, which is a lot more time-consuming, and not always accessible to everyone. 

Many trend-forecasting and color resources nowadays cost a pretty penny to access. The glass ceiling of budget access to see success in the fashion industry comes as a shock to almost no one in 2023, and this exclusivity keeps many designers locked out of insightful data. AI systems can work in collaboration with fashion designers, using data insights to inform their creative process. This synergy between human creativity and AI analysis can lead to innovative designs that align with emerging trends. Midjourney, am image-creating AI, is proving to be an excellent tool to align colors, textures, and silhouettes for designers.

AI, as a tool, can also analyze market trends to predict the level of demand for designs accurately. By optimizing production levels, fashion brands can minimize their overproduction and waste. Waste and excess is a massive issue when it comes to fashion, and post-consumer activity has become a huge topic of conversation. 

A great example of this in practice can be seen with Tommy Hilfiger. Tommy uses the predictive power of AI to understand environmental characteristics of their raw materials, as well as predict the amount of garments to make. This gives them the ability to see how their material choices will fare in the long run, and how many garments is enough. 

AI-driven systems can also help identify and sort textiles for recycling, contributing to the circular economy in fashion. It can distinguish between natural fibers like cotton, wool, silk, and synthetic materials like polyester, nylon, and acrylic. This illustrates a huge opportunity to reduce waste, as a large caveat in textile recycling involves the separation of fiber content. By reusing materials and reducing waste, the fashion industry can reduce its overall environmental impact.

Virtual Try-On and Fitting

 Another branch of the sustainability tree where AI is proving its worth is finding fitting solutions., an AI specializing in retail integration, powers virtual try-on that allows individuals to visualize how clothing would look on them without physically trying it on. This not only enhances the accuracy of a shopping experience, but also reduces the environmental impact of shipping and returns. 

Have you ever avoided purchasing clothes online because you were unfamiliar with the size range, or just felt skeptical? AI can also make personalized recommendations for shoppers, helping us find clothing that fits well and suits our style preferences. This leads to fewer returns and exchanges, reducing unnecessary transportation and associated emissions. This technology helps us feel confident in our purchases, decreases the amount of negative feelings that come with ill-fitting clothes, and subconsciously lowers transportation emissions in the 

A step further in this innovation comes in-store. Fashion and accessories designer Rebecca Minkoff has taken the brick and mortar shopping experience to a whole new level with the help of smart tech. Her shops utilize smart mirrors in dressing rooms that allow individuals to request different sizes and save their shopping history for later.

There is much still to be discovered of how exactly AI can improve how fashion brands function, but the results we currently see are pretty promising. By harnessing the power of AI, the fashion industry can make significant strides towards sustainability, fostering more responsible practices and aligning with the global efforts to combat climate change and environmental degradation. 

Though we should always be aware that in order to see changes, brands have to be willing to make changes. Taking responsibility is a first step that many brands do not take. Artificial Intelligence programming might be able to lend a hand in situations where time is of the essence, or in situations when workers in the garment industry are not being given a safe place to work. AI monitoring might allow for the heightening of standards and less human error or apathy. We could see outstanding improvements in quality of garments, quality of circularity, and quality of life across the board.

What are your thoughts on AI, or its relationship in the fashion industry? Follow us on Instagram @sabrinaspanta to join the conversation!



AI Image created by Becky Smouha.

Sources Consulted: Towards Data Science, Sustainably Chic, Elle, Honest Fashion.

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