Updated: Oct 19, 2020
Artificial intelligence exists since 1956 and has made giant steps: In 1997, the technology beat the reigning world champion in chess  and defeated the best human in the strategy board game ‘GO’ . How likely is it that AI will soon also defeat our Tom Ford’s and Karl Lagerfeld’s? Let’s see!
AI in a nutshell:
AI is a technique that enables machines to mimic human behaviour .
AI can be broken down into different areas. Still, computer vision (CV) is particularly important for the fashion industry: The industry heavily communicates through images , and CV is used to analyze images that users upload. One promising use case is trend forecasting.
In the context of AI, it is often discussed if technology can replace or even beat fashion designers . Fashion designers gain inspiration for new fashion trends from a myriad of sources  such as the fashion pipeline (see image 1). In the future, AI could become another indispensable source for designer’s creativity .
In 2018, a fascinating collaboration happened between Tommy Hilfiger, IBM and The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT): FIT students were given access to IBM Research’s AI capabilities  that were applied to more than 15,000 Tommy Hilfiger product images . The gained insights into real-time fashion trends were used to create an impressive AI-driven design (see image 2).
One problem of using AI in fashion trend forecasting is that brands are inherently complex (see image 3) . It is rather unlikely that an AI algorithm can tap into each of the distinct components, look at them holistically and then wave them into the latest fashion trends to create new garments.
Another challenge is that designer’s attitude towards AI will be mainly influenced by its perceived usefulness and ease of use : So far AI interfaces like the one from IBM are not user-friendly enough and still require the expertise of an IT specialist inhibiting their wide adoption . Lastly, the current AI algorithms are not always accurate in analyzing fashion trends .
I’m sorry AI, but I doubt that you can continue your impressive victorious march also in the fashion industry. Machines will not think Tommy Hilfiger, Gucci or Chanel – this task remains in the hands of fashion designers. However, I have no doubt that AI will become the new assistant of fashion designers.
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