AI Transformation of the Fashion World: Protecting Designers’ Creativity
Fashion innovator Calvin Wong has developed the world’s first designer-led AI system, called the Interactive Design Assistant for Fashion (AiDA), which is revolutionizing the fashion industry. AiDA utilizes image-recognition technology to expedite the design process, enabling designers to bring their creations from initial sketches to the catwalk more quickly.
The AI system works by analyzing fabric prints, patterns, color tones, and initial sketches uploaded by designers. It then generates a wide range of proposals for designers to refine and modify, presenting them with all possible combinations—a feat that was previously impossible within the traditional design process.
Wong emphasized that AiDA’s primary purpose is to facilitate designers’ inspiration, rather than replacing their creativity. He stressed the importance of preserving the originality of designers and their unique creative vision. AiDA acts as a powerful tool for designers, enhancing their abilities and offering them an extensive array of ideas to consider.
In December, the M+ Museum in Hong Kong featured collections by 14 designers that were developed using AiDA. The exhibition showcased the significant impact that AI can have on the fashion industry, validating RCA Vice Chancellor Naren Barfield’s prediction that AI’s influence on the fashion industry will be transformational.
AI has already made strides in personalization, improving the customer experience through enhanced product recommendations and more effective searches. As technology continues to evolve, highly specialized AI tools are being developed to address specific challenges in the fashion industry.
One of the showcased AidLab projects is the Neo Couture project, which aims to digitally preserve the intricate skills and techniques used by couturiers. Given the skills shortage faced by the UK fashion industry, this project aims to create an AI-assisted training system that can teach couture skills.
Another project within AidLab seeks to promote sustainability and reduce the staggering amount of clothing, approximately 92 million tonnes, that ends up in landfills each year. The AI Loupe project addresses the issue of using leftover fabric, or dead stock, by allowing designers to photograph the fabric and receive missing details to assess its suitability for their designs.
While the potential applications of AI in the fashion industry are vast, there are legal hurdles to overcome. New York brand Collina Strada recently used an AI image generator to create their collection for New York Fashion Week, raising questions about intellectual property rights. Fulfilling regulatory requirements for AI-generated designs will require substantial effort.
Barfield believes that the challenges surrounding AI in fashion design will be resolved through test cases and legislation. He anticipates that companies seeking a competitive advantage will invest in AI once the required infrastructure is established. The benefits, including reduced material waste and increased productivity, make AI an enticing prospect for fashion companies.
The key aspect is maintaining control over the decision-making process. By utilizing a genetic algorithm, designers can start with one design and allow the software to generate successive variations, expediting the process that would otherwise take weeks to complete manually. AI offers significant benefits in terms of speed and efficiency without undermining the designer’s creative authority.
As AI technology continues to advance, it is crucial to find a balance between leveraging its capabilities and preserving the originality and creativity of designers. With AI serving as a powerful assistant, designers can push the boundaries of their creativity and take the fashion industry to new heights.