AI in Fashion: Help or hindrance?

In recent years, the use of artificial intelligence has greatly increased, from simple uses such as Snapchat AI, to much larger scales with companies opting to use AI rather than humans for certain jobs. Now what does this mean for the Fashion Industry?

AI is currently being used by numerous brands in fashion, such as H&M, Nike, and Zara, to get ahead of other companies by analysing runway shows and social media for upcoming trends through the use of AI algorithms. This technique of trend forecasting is thought to be more efficient and accurate, so it is not surprising that popular brands are using AI, especially due to the low costs that cannot be promised with regular workers. The 2022 IBM Global AI Adoption Index stated that “44% of companies are working to incorporate AI into current applications and processes”.

With free apps available to turn words into art, the creativity and originality of iconic fashion designers may become a thing of the past. Mobile applications including ‘Wonder’ and ‘GenZ Art’ produce images from users descriptions of a concept, enabling new images and designs in the click of a button. This may be great for the average person using the app as a fun hobby, however, with such impressive results from free apps, it leaves a lot to question about how much impact AI generated images could have at an industry standard. However, artificial intelligence may lack human touch, which built the fashion industry over the years.


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We asked Naomi Austin, Deputy Programme Leader, and Senior Lecturer at The University of Sunderland, about her views on this. She said: “Individual creativity will never ever be replaced by AI in my opinion. I mean, how can you generate the skill and creativity of Alexander McQueen’s pattern cutting or Issey Miyake’s silhouettes. These ideas are unique ‘fingerprints’ of the designer and could be replicated by AI but that’s all they would be – replicated and copied. You need a genius human mind to generate real creativity!”

If it is found that there is a continued increase in the use of AI, many could fear the loss of jobs in the fashion industry. A Goldman Sachs report states that “AI could replace the equivalent of 300 million jobs”, and this figure demonstrates just how much AI will continue to expand in work environments across the globe. This could be very concerning, but the UK Government believe AI will actually aid workers.

We asked Naomi whether she thinks there will be a loss of jobs in Fashion Industry due to AI. She said: “Potentially in some areas – maybe in pattern cutting for example but I’m not worried about it happening because of what I’ve mentioned above. Nothing, not even robots can replace individual unique creativity.”


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In terms of how consumers will be affected by AI in fashion, it does seem to have a positive impact, with revolutionised ways of shopping, such as AI personal styling and virtual try on experiences. These use factors like browser history alongside individual preferences to create customised results for everyone.

An app striving to show the positive side of AI is ‘Style DNA’ – a personalised styling app, specialising in the use of AI. With over three million users, the app has been a hit with fashion lovers, allowing them to receive personalised styling recommendations and a digital wardrobe, all from their phone. This displays how useful AI can be for the regular shopper, helping people to improve their style through new techniques using factors such as body shape and skin undertones.

Although the app may not be known to everyone yet, it would not be surprising for its popularity to rapidly rise in the next few years, with Statista suggesting that “AI use in the fashion market globally is expected to amount to $4.4 billion by 2027.” – demonstrating a huge increase from the $270 million in 2018.

We also spoke to Neil Macfarlane, Senior Lecturer in Online Journalism at The University of Sunderland, about his opinions on the impact of AI in the fashion industry. He said: “There are a number of ways in which AI could affect the fashion industry. Photoshoots with real models could become a thing of the past, as we are already seeing highly convincing AI photography.”

Examples of these images can be seen at AI Fashion Week, a platform dedicated to celebrating the best AI fashion designers. Currently in its second season with over 400 submissions, AI Fashion week will give one lucky winner the chance to have their AI collection brought to life in collaboration with ‘Revolve’. With sustainability being at the forefront of many people’s minds, could this be the future of fashion shows, with no need for wasted materials?


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Neil added: “Algorithms can already create clothes designs within seconds, and 3D printers could produce the clothes quickly – reducing the need for humans in the manufacturing process. This technology may become commonplace sooner rather than later. Businesses want it, as it reduces costs, but this could lead to huge job losses – as it will across all industries”.

A Forbes article states that AI will widely effect supply chain management in fashion companies. Artificial intelligence has the ability to use information including how items performed and previous levels of inventory. Therefore, although this would have an impact on fashion buyers roles, it has the potential to be a huge positive factor for the environment in the long run. This is due to more accurate predictions of sales, leading to less waste in synthetic materials overall – leaning towards AI leaving a more positive impact.

What is your opinion on the use of AI in Fashion? Do you think it is a good or bad thing for the industry? Let us know on our Instagram @fashion_north.


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