The great possibility or enormous risk: the fashion system is questioning how to make AI a tool and a resource to be “used brilliantly and prudently”, says Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain. Indeed, what it seems, is that it could be a tsunami destined to take root, unlike what is happening to the Metaverse
The spotlights shining on the Metaverse are going out. Those shining Artificial Intelligence, on the other hand, have turned on and are shining brightly, not least because it is already everywhere and, not least, it seems anything but a game. Not surprisingly, many companies are exploring how they can integrate it into everyday processes, increasing efficiency and offering personalised experiences to users. Leading the way are giants such as Google, Apple, and Amazon. Next in line is the fashion that sees it as more concrete, easier to use, and, therefore, easier to turn into a tool for interaction with and between consumers.
Artificial Intelligence is already everywhere
“Artificial Intelligence is already everywhere, in the creative and political spheres, in the music industry, etc.. But it is also a huge question mark. Is it good or bad? We have to use it in a brilliant and prudent way,’ says Olivier Rousteing, creative director of Balmain. ‘I think fashion is art and freedom of expression, so I think this is the way we should use it. But we shouldn’t use technology to replace human beings. I think we should use it to elevate ourselves to a new perspective,’ Rousteing continues. And admits that designers might feel threatened by this new reality.
The first steps of fashion
Luxury brands and multinationals are taking their first steps in trying to figure out the most profitable way to exploit AI. The advantages it offers are many, but just as many are still completely unknown. To sample the potential of this technology, the first AI Fashion Week (AIFW), hosted by Maison Meta, arrived. The event took place on 20 and 21 April 2023 at New York’s Spring Studios and hosted emerging fashion designers developing their creations using Generative Artificial Intelligence.
Because the first fashion application point of this new dimension is creativity. The designer can have a constant (albeit ‘artificial’) source of inspiration and support capable of accelerating production. Possible consequence: allowing the designer to devote more time and attention to the craft aspect of production, for example.
The relationship with consumers
AI can be used to create customised experiences and optimise service for customers. Or to identify fakes and manage prices and the supply chain. Or to create personal and virtual shopping assistants, provide information to salespeople and generally improve the online and offline customer experience. Algorithms can analyse sales data, customer feedback, and market trends to predict future sales and adjust production and inventory levels. Activities that many have already implemented rely on data management that, thanks to AI, can literally take off.
“Brands that want to beat their competitors must train their employees to use AI to work better and smarter. It will be important for companies to exploit its full potential, combining the various tools with their own systems and creating activations tailored to their needs,’ writes Alison Bringé of Launchmetrics in Forbes.
The Zegna experience
Zegna is already grappling with AI by having the Zegna X project in operation. This virtual personal shopper allows the customer to visualise the complete outfit down to the smallest detail. And it allows its own style consultants and creative director to access any sales information imaginable to refine, optimise and personalise the offer. It currently offers 49 billion combinations of cuts and colours based on 2,300 products. “Zegna X offers you the possibility of imagining yourself dressed in a certain way even if you don’t see the garments,” explains creative director Alessandro Sartori.
“Whereas before you went into a shop and could only appreciate a garment if you saw it and if it was available in your size, today you can do this with the entire Zegna archive, which is constantly updated with styles that come out and enter the collection. Then, in case there are no more sizes or no styles in a certain colour, we can create a single garment for the customer”.
The Balenciaga case
Do you know that viral photo of Pope Francis wearing an immaculate white maxi- dress? The image was generated with Midjourney by Pablo Xavier, who admits to using the term ‘Balenciaga‘ in the text request in an interview with Buzzfeed. A few days later, a video with fake models resembling characters from the Harry Potter saga wearing Balenciaga-like outfits had millions of views.
Semore Xavier repeated the experiment with Breaking Bad and Lord of the Rings. Other creatives have had fun applying the same concept to Peaky Blinders, Game of Thrones, Spiderman, and Star Wars. In short, Balenciaga is inspiring AI. “For me, fashion is a mirror, a reflection of what is happening around us,” explained Demna Gvasalia, the label’s artistic director, on the stage of the Vogue Fashion Festival in 2018. In this mirror, today, Artificial Intelligence is also and increasingly reflected.
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