Artificial intelligence is making its mark on one industry after another, and fashion businesses are not exempt. "From design to marketing and sales, AI is affecting everything and offering businesses new opportunities to streamline their operations and reach new heights," Forbes reports. While some people feel "AI can't match human originality," as Asian Scientist Magazine wrote, some fashion executives are eager to test the bounds. The introduction of AI raises so many questions: How might the technology be helpful to fashion designers? What are the risks? Most importantly, what does this mean for the future of fashion?
How could AI be used in fashion?
Using artificial intelligence in fashion may sound outlandish to the average consumer, but for developers and those in the industry, it's easy to see how AI could take loads of work off their shoulders. Just as scientists are using AI to detect cancer mutations, fashion designers and businesspeople are finding their own creative ways to use the same technology. "One of the biggest impacts of AI in fashion is in the area of supply chain management," Forbes says. AI models can be "trained by historical inventory levels and sales performance to predict future sales, businesses can make more informed decisions about what to stock and when." That means there could be less waste, happier customers, and higher profits.
For businesses, the benefits of AI may seem like the best of both worlds, but there is always a downside. While AI has the potential to be able to predict emerging fashion trends with the use of algorithms and examining customer data to create pieces that are more likely to sell, Forbes says it puts individuality and creativity at risk.
How will fashion industry workers be affected by AI?
From a purely business perspective, using AI in the fashion industry may seem like a no-brainer: Using the latest technology to satisfy customers, waste fewer resources during production, and increase revenue could simply be the way the industry winds are blowing. But what about the people who work in the fashion space? "One of the biggest concerns is the potential for AI to replace human labor," Forbes notes. "With AI algorithms capable of doing the jobs of designers, marketers, and other fashion professionals, there is a risk that some jobs will be lost." The history of fashion has been made by the hands of creative individuals who were able to collaboratively work to develop the most unique designs, whether by starting new trends or updating classic favorites, and not everybody is on board with the idea that a robot could replace some of the work of talented people across the industry, especially if it means economic disruption.
Is this the inevitable future of fashion?
In Korea, researchers conducted a study that found that humans have an edge compared to artificial intelligence when it comes to fashion and textile design, according to Women's Wear Daily. The report concluded that "AI can help designers in the creative process," but not replace them entirely, so perhaps AI can work in tandem with designers, instead of in competition. In that sense, "everybody will be able to be a creator or designer with the help of AI models. So far, only professional fashion designers have been able to design and showcase clothes. But in the future, it will be possible for anyone to design the clothes they want and showcase their creativity," Pusan National University assistant professor Yoon Kyung Lee told WWD. While AI is likely to add a new layer of complexity to the evolving industry, human creativity may not be as easily duplicated as some fear.