There have been many discussions regarding the capabilities of AI. Within these conversations there has also been a lot of misunderstanding and inaccurate information regarding advancements in AI and how these will shape the roles and need for humans.
The fashion industry has been utilizing AI tools for many years, from on-demand solutions and personalization to analyzing data and predicting the next trends. Tools intended to aid humans—not replace them—can reduce errors, create efficiency and clarify communication to streamline operations that will create a more sustainable fashion industry.
Reducing the fear surrounding the power of AI can be achieved with education, training and open discussions regarding how this technology can help rather than hinder human progress within the fashion industry. California Apparel News asked technology experts: As AI continues to thrill technology enthusiasts, how do you feel it will advance this year to drive innovation in the fashion industry?
Shahrooz Shawn Kohan
Chief Executive Officer
AI is a game changer for us at AIMS360 Fashion Business Software. This year, we are deploying AI for our fashion brands across both customer-facing services and back-office operations. The information is powered by our AIMS360 database. For example, consumers can ask AI bots for information about the brand’s products, pricing and policies.
Behind the scenes, in the back office, AIMS360 has been able to set up AI automations for employees to help make quick decisions in production forecasting, order processing and shipping. As AI gets better training with improved accuracy, it can make the decision with less human oversight. Eventually, AI will become as good as the human in answering.
Chief Operating Officer
We will likely continue to see many brands try to tackle the struggles of overwhelming product returns. With overall revenue dropping, companies will be looking to improve their bottom lines by eliminating returns where possible. I believe we will start to see many companies offering virtual-dressing-room solutions and sizing recommendation engines as possible solutions.
While the buzz on generative AI continues to dominate media headlines, industry-specific AI is shaping fashion’s future through digital bodies. Technologies that allow apparel companies to produce the right goods, at the right time, in the right quantities are vital to a sustainable fashion industry.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
In 2023, the fashion industry began recognizing the substantial potential of AI. For instance, during AI Fashion Week, Maison Meta showcased fascinating AI-generated collections. The Accidental Cutting collection at London Fashion Week also demonstrated AI’s creative capabilities, creating designs at an astonishing rate of 150 per second. AI is increasingly becoming a powerful force in fashion, significantly impacting customer experience and retail strategies.
In the realm of AI integration, companies like Mango, Alibaba, Amazon and Zalando are leading by example. Mango’s introduction of Lisa, a conversational AI platform, exemplifies the shift toward interactive, AI-driven customer experiences. Alibaba’s AI language models enhance its business ecosystem, offering sophisticated tools for partner engagement and business strategy. Similarly, Amazon’s focus on AI in its AWS services and Zalando’s deployment of AI in fashion assistance highlight the industry’s commitment to integrating AI into various aspects of operations.
The integration of AI with the expertise of sourcing networks like BuyHive heralds a new era in fashion sourcing. This blend of cutting-edge technology and human insight offers a comprehensive, efficient and innovative approach to navigating the complex landscape of the fashion industry. As AI continues to evolve, its partnership with seasoned professionals will become increasingly vital, driving forward a future of sustainable, responsive and trend-conscious fashion sourcing. This synergy not only enhances operational efficiencies but also fosters a more dynamic, creative and forward-thinking fashion industry.
President, Business Applications Division
The events of the past year have unequivocally demonstrated the indispensability of real-time supply-chain visibility in today’s dynamic business environment. With our sights set on the future of 2024, it has become increasingly imperative for companies to proactively prepare for potential disruptions stemming from various sources such as regional conflicts, weather-related challenges and unforeseen circumstances.
A pivotal strategy in achieving the desired level of visibility lies in digitally connecting the supply chain. By seamlessly integrating brand systems with supplier systems, businesses unlock transparency and invaluable insights. The fashion industry has astutely recognized the significance of this connection, especially in light of recent experiences. In 2024, organizations are presented with an exceptional opportunity to seize the benefits of augmented visibility by embracing the transformative power of AI, automation and analytics.
This digital transformation promises to propel efficiency and endow brands with the ability to respond promptly and proactively as the need arises. By effectively harnessing the capabilities of AI, companies can make well-informed decisions anchored in real-time data analysis. The integration of AI technologies empowers brands to optimize their supply-chain operations, pinpoint and resolve bottlenecks, and streamline processes. Furthermore, this advanced approach generates intelligent forecasting, ensuring the seamless production and timely delivery of fashion-forward goods.
The undeniable expertise and profound understanding of AI-driven supply-chain solutions underscore the potential held by artificial intelligence in revolutionizing the fashion industry. By furnishing real-time visibility, optimizing operations and enriching decision-making, AI emerges as a force that drives innovation and nurtures agility within the fashion industry.
Chief Executive Officer
Amazon is trailblazing AI to solve one of online fashion’s significant shopper pain points—finding the right fit. By analyzing customer data and feedback, Amazon has introduced personalized size recommendations, aggregated sizing reviews, standardized and auto-corrected size charts, and created a Fit Insights Tool for brands.
These are all AI-powered features designed to tailor suggestions to each shopper, provide more-reliable measurements, highlight potential issues for brands and reduce returns. This AI-driven transformation tackles an aspect of shopping that has challenged online retailers since consumers started buying online.
Co-founder and Managing Partner
In the evolving landscape of the fashion industry, AI is poised to revolutionize customer experiences, particularly through the lenses of data analytics and trend prediction, creating a more personalized shopping experience. The advent of AI-driven recommendation engines further amplifies the personalized shopping journey, analyzing customer data to suggest fashion items tailored to individual preferences. There has been an industry-wide shift toward customization, where brands leverage AI to offer personalized designs, sizes and colors, ensuring a unique and engaging brand experience.
Beyond the immediate customer-facing innovations, foundational advancements driven by AI are reshaping the industry’s core. Predictive analytics empowers businesses to forecast sales trends, providing valuable insights without direct influence. Supply-chain optimization takes precedence, with AI playing a pivotal role in inventory management to mitigate overstocking and under-stocking issues. Quality control and sustainability are paramount, and AI automation will enhance manufacturing processes and aid in the selection of eco-friendly materials.
Fabric and material innovations will accelerate via AI algorithms, enabling the creation of textiles with garment-optimized properties. As more designers embrace AI-powered generative design tools, we foresee an upsurge in creativity, not only saving time but also organically inspiring innovation. AI will continue to transform market research and consumer insights, providing invaluable data for industry-wide strategies.
Fashion Index remains unwavering in its dedication to fostering a seamless, trendsetting and sustainable fashion ecosystem. Serving as a resource where new and emerging brands connect with industry leaders and professionals, we envision a future where innovation and sustainability harmoniously shape the fashion industry.
Fashion and Luxury Photographer
In fashion and luxury-goods photography, the nuanced judgment and aesthetic sensitivity of human creativity are essential, especially when leveraging artificial intelligence. While AI can enhance efficiency and offer innovative tools, the creation of captivating, high-end imagery fundamentally relies on the photographer’s artistic eye, even when prompting generativeAI tools like Midjourney. These professionals possess an irreplaceable understanding of style, culture and emotional resonance, guiding AI to produce outcomes that meet the sophisticated expectations of the fashion industry.
Human photographers and film directors make critical decisions on composition, lighting and mood, infusing images with depth and meaning, ensuring they convey the desired message and emotion. AI acts as an assistant in this process, but it is the human touch that breathes life into the images. In the dynamic world of fashion, understanding trends and predicting future directions requires cultural insight and emotional intelligence that AI alone cannot replicate. Photographers interpret these trends through a human lens, creating images that resonate deeply with viewers.
As AI evolves within the fashion sector, the importance of human skill and aesthetic awareness remains paramount. It is the interplay between human intuition and AI’s capabilities that will drive the industry forward, ensuring fashion photography not only meets but exceeds the high standards of beauty, innovation and style. This human-centric approach guarantees that fashion photography continues to be an art form that inspires and engages audiences globally.
Industry and Solution Strategy Director for North America—Fashion Retail
When did you first notice the message, ‘You may also want to purchase these items,’ or ‘Shoppers have purchased these other items when they purchased this, would you like to add them to your cart,’ or even ‘Based on your previous orders, you will need a size S’? This started almost 10 years ago. Now we have a name for it, AI—artificial or augmented intelligence—powered by ML, also known as machine learning.
The apparel fashion industry has come a long way in AI and ML since those days. In the last few years the industry has gone from personalized shopping experiences to tools that can assist designers by generating design suggestions through trend analysis. By analyzing vast amounts of data, AI algorithms can now predict upcoming fashion trends.
The collaboration between AI and human designers can result in groundbreaking fashion concepts. More companies are adopting AI-powered predictive trend insights as well as virtual try-on experiences that allow customers to see how clothing would look in real time through their devices before they make a purchase. AI will continue to make fashion more personal.
AI doesn’t end with the design aspect; its predictive capabilities extend to forecasting, not just sales trends but inventory requirements as well. By analyzing historical data, AI provides insights into the products that can perform well, enabling businesses to make data-driven decisions and still manage design trends.
The future of fashion is so embedded with everything AI has to offer, making all the tools essential to the industry’s continued success.
Chief Marketing Officer
After turbulent hype cycles in recent years, the conversation around technology is calling for more-actionable implementation of pragmatic and impactful solutions. Faced with a challenging business landscape and ever-changing consumer preferences, brands will put even greater emphasis on practical tech to help drive results.
To successfully compete in today’s economy, brands will need to reassess their priorities by keeping efficiency top of mind. To that point, more brands will continue increasing their investments in AI-powered solutions for practical business applications, fueling innovation going forward.
Vice President of Marketing, Americas
In 2024, generative AI will continue to drive explosive growth within the fashion industry to improve customer experience. Brands who adopt AI capabilities will reap benefits across the board. From increasing the production of personalized products to optimizing store layout and pricing, we’ll see AI’s true impact this year.
One major benefit of AI will be the impact it has on retailers’ inventory-management process. The use of AI-powered competitive-analysis platforms to prioritize contingency planning will not only enhance sustainability efforts by eliminating overproduction but also ultimately increase retailers’ profitability while driving growth by precisely managing prices.
To prepare for challenges and be alert to opportunities, leading fashion companies will likely prioritize contingency planning for the coming year. Given the current economic environment and unprecedented uncertainty companies are facing, the need to get merchandising right is even more urgent than usual.
AI will also drive on-demand production. Personalization has been a priority for consumers and is a trend that is here to stay. In order to appeal to a consumer’s individual desires, a retailer must shift from mass production to a made-to-order model, made possible by on-demand production. Retailers who leverage on-demand technology will be able to produce inventory after an order is placed, helping to appeal to customers’ niche interests, all the while increasing sustainability efforts by eliminating waste.
Victoria Nelson Harris
Senior Textile Segment Specialist
AI in the fashion industry will enhance digital printing, empowering textile designers to swiftly define trends and create patterns, accelerating speed to market. The alignment of AI advancements with the fast pace of e-commerce and accelerated fashion trend cycles is evident.
Moreover, AI will accelerate on-demand digital textile printing, offering a sustainable opportunity within the fashion industry to print trend-driven supply in lower volumes, reducing waste and aligning with the industry’s shift toward eco-friendly practices.
Founder and Chief Executive Officer
We’ve seen many brands wake up to the fact that the current AI technology still focuses primarily on conceptualization and predevelopment imagery. While that’s certainly helpful early on, we still need a focus on the manufacturing aspect so those beautiful visuals can actually be manufactured.
This means much of the usefulness in the fashion AI space will be unlocked once we plug the development pipeline into that technology. In order to do this, brands and their supply-chain and manufacturing arms need to be using a digital pipeline in order for AI to utilize that content and implement it in a manner that reflects the needs of the brands and their customers.
Currently, most brands still haven’t gone through digital transformation, which means they are still sketching in 2D and relying exclusively on physical samples or working in 2D or 3D and combining both physical and virtual samples. This transformation requires brands to transform their process, but suppliers must also create materials to provide digital fabric and the manufacturers must create the patterns to match the 3D designs, having that group iterate in virtual forms for the majority of the journey and only rely on physical sampling toward the end for finish, fit and feel.
AI will have a dramatic impact on shortening this design calendar while providing much more insight on sustainability, user trends and sales forecasting, but this true unlock starts with having a digital base to build on.
Major players in the industry, particularly prominent retailers, have already embraced AI and big data to forecast trends and enhance marketing strategies. Beyond the conventional applications, companies like Styku are leveraging AI to predict human physical-health developments, highlighting the vast potential AI holds within diverse realms.
Tukatech’s integration of EcoShot allows 3D technology users to select from an array of AI-generated models that are suitable for e-commerce applications while eliminating photo shoots. Leveraging recent AI advancements in digital fabric creation, innovative brands and manufacturers can bring a product to market in a matter of days without physical sampling.
While concerns about job security linger in the wake of AI advancements, a nuanced perspective has emerged. Rather than displacing jobs, AI offers a unique opportunity to elevate roles to new heights. For instance, the prospect of instructing AI to generate patterns from images doesn’t replace patternmakers; it streamlines the initial product development phase, allowing professionals to focus on refining and accelerating the creative process.
Embracing AI with an open mind and understanding its integration as an enhancement rather than a threat has the potential to revolutionize our approach to work. The acceptance and utilization of AI not only streamlines processes but also paves the way for a future where innovation in the fashion industry becomes synonymous with efficiency, creativity and speed.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer
AI can drastically speed up content creation. At VNTANA, we’re harnessing the power of AI to automatically generate high-quality 2D renderings derived from 3D models. This not only accelerates the creative process but also offers significant cost savings for brands by eliminating the need for traditional photo shoots and physical samples. This innovative approach positions companies to expedite their time-to-market, marking a pivotal shift in the industry landscape.
Responses have been edited for clarity and space.