How Artificial Intelligence Is Changing the Fashion Industry

  • Written by Peter Needle
  • Published on 13 August 2019
  • Our Voice

The mention of artificial intelligence (AI) is often enough to conjure up images of metal robots and a future that resembles The Matrix. AI is, according to techopedia, “an area of computer science that emphasises the creative of intelligent machines that work and react like humans”. In truth, AI refers to machine learning that can be used to improve human experiences – and it’s frequently used in the world around us today.

One of the most recognised forms of AI is Siri, Apple’s voice activated personal assistant, with “Hey Siri, is it going to rain today?” being a question that would be unlikely to cause raised eyebrows in 2019. There’s not much Siri can’t do – find you a map, book you a table for dinner or set a reminder. Since its inception in 2011, Siri has seen competition in Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant.

The development of such artificial intelligence has moved the technology away from a purely consumer-focused novelty, to improving business processes and operations behind the scenes too.

Artificial Intelligence in the Supply Chain

Artificial intelligence in fashion can be adopted before the garments even hit the shelves. In fact, SewBot®, a computer vision-powered robot by SoftWear Automation can sew footwear, t-shirts, pillows and more, and even uses algorithms to make adjustments after detecting distortions in the fabric.

The first thing they do is use their eyes, and based on their eyes, they do micro and macro manipulations of the fabric with their fingers and hands and elbows and feet. So a robot replicates all of those functions.

CEO Palaniswamy Rajan

The company claims that the machines are capable of producing a t-shirt in 22 seconds and a sewn upper for footwear in 26 seconds. You can watch the SewBot® in action here.

Customer Facing Artificial Intelligence

ASOS has launched new augmented reality feature, Virtual Catwalk, on its app, giving customers the opportunity to view products “in real life”. The new concept, which was developed in partnership with HoloMe, is being tested on ASOS Design products.

ASOS virtual catwalk Retail Gazette

Photo credit: ASOS, Retail Gazette

After choosing a product, the user simply needs to point the camera on their smartphone at a flat surface, click the ‘AR’ button, and they can view models walking in front of them, as if on a catwalk. Clever!

Using Artificial Intelligence to Predict Future Trends

Increased pressure on brands to address sustainability and waste in the supply chain is causing many companies to use the power of AI to predict future fashion trends, better aligning supply and demand.

One of these AI companies are Fashion Pocket, whose system detects colours, patterns, sizes and outfit combinations online to predict local and global trends. It does this by analysing more than 25 million images. These results can then be used by brands and retailers to determine their next season’s products.

Historically, it would have been the brands dictating what the fashion trends are for the next season… That’s all changed. It’s no longer brand-centric, it’s consumer-centric.

Lisa Chatteron, London College of Fashion

There are many areas where AI is improving the fashion industry; the manufacturing supply chain, market insights and customer experience included. However, doubt has been cast over using automated processes in a sector that has creativity at its heart. The key is to combine automation with design; allowing the technology to support the work that is already done, rather than replace it.

To truly maximise upon technology, brands need to look to digitisation on the whole. In retail terms, digitisation can mean factory automation, internet enabled in-store kiosks as well as AI and supply chain tracking.

Segura’s innovative platform allows our customers to digitally transform their supply chain, leaving them in the knowledge that they are in control and can take advantage of the brand protection that this brings with it.

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