Artificial Intelligence is Restyling the Fashion Industry

How AI is being used to vamp up one of the biggest and most competitive industries in the market.

Artificial intelligence is a trendy term tossed around at the moment, but how has it been used to improve one of the biggest industries around the globe? AI is being used to increase productivity in manufacturing clothes as well as running enterprises. New and emerging technologies can be used to improve sustainability and produce a customized, individual customer experience.

How AI is being used in fashion? 💻

Artificial intelligence is being used in many different ways in the fashion industry. The first use case of AI in fashion is as an advisory role. Artificially intelligent digital assistants are being used to recommend clothes to customers based on their height, weight, shape, and current size. Customers are then given accurate sizing based on the details they have inputted into the system. The sizing accuracy is based on feedback from other customers. On average 40% of online purchases are ultimately returned. The use of AI in customer advisory is important as it allows for greater customer satisfaction and a reduction in the number of returns.

AI can also be used for practicality and productivity within stores and online retail. Through logging sales, returns, and online purchases, retailers can keep track of stock and gauge which stores need which products. According to a survey by Capgemini, artificial intelligence could help retailers save $340 billion annually by the year 2022 by enabling efficiency in several processes and operations. This prediction figure is huge and it is understandable why many retailers wish to adopt new technologies such as AI into their business.

Image: Úrsula Madariaga

AI in Fashion and Sustainability 🍃

The fashion industry continues to be one of the biggest global polluters. It is responsible for 10% of global carbon dioxide emissions, 20% of the world’s industrial wastewater, and 25% of all insecticides used in the industry. It is unrealistic to think that this industry can continue mass-producing clothes to keep up with this fast fashion epidemic. However, artificial intelligence can be used at many stages of production to combat this dilemma, in turn reducing inventory levels. AI offers a sustainable solution to fashion, reducing overall inventory levels by 20–50% as well as improving working conditions in the fashion industryThe use of Artificial Intelligence alongside Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Natural Language Processing, Visual Recognition, and Data Analytics can be used to reduce errors in trend predictions and forecast trends more accurately which would reduce the amount of clothing produced and then unused.

In 2017, an Amazon team in San Francisco created an unnamed AI “fashion designer”. They developed an algorithm that analyses images and duplicates the style, making new items in similar styles. We’re not yet at haute couture levels, but these new technologies foreshadow future possibilities.

Image: Unsplash

A company that has sustainability at the forefront of its business model and has done for years is Toms. Founded in May 2006 by Blake Mycoskie, their mission statement says:

“TOMS’ mission to help improve lives through business is a core value and is embedded in everything we do. We believe in partnering with others who share these values and who conduct business ethically.”

With each pair of Toms bought they donate a pair to underprivileged places. As of now, Toms has donated over 96.5 million pairs of shoes. These shoes are made from many materials such as natural hemp, organic cotton, recycled polyester. These materials are used on the upper, liner and/or the insole of the shoe. Not only do they donate shoes but they also donate 33.3% of their net profit. So, for every $3 they make, they donate $1. This shows the dedication Toms have to giving back to disadvantaged communities around the world. Toms have moved beyond giving shoes, in 2011 they started to donate prescription glasses to those in need, and in 2014 they began providing 140 litres (one week’s supply) of water per person. In 2015, they trained skilled birth attendants and issued safe birth kits. They have helped provide safe births for over 25,000 mothers. It is no doubt that Toms have their priorities straight when it comes to their business.


Designers using AI in Fashion 👗

The first brand I’m going to discuss is H&M. It is a popular clothing store globally, having originated in Sweden by Erling Persson in 1947 and produces a mass amount of clothing worldwide. They have chosen to use advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to improve their business overall. H&M is improving the way they spot trends and plan logistics and reducing the number of discounted sales, and masses of unsold stock by using artificially intelligent technologies. They are also using it to examine supply and demand and allocate a sufficient number of goods to each store, once again, reducing the number of wasted clothes. At the H&M group, they are combing both analytics and AI with human intelligence to use what is known as “Amplified Intelligence.”

Stitch Fix was founded by Katrina Lake in February 2011. It is a company that provides a personal style service for both men and women. They use data from both customers and clients to create an accurate result for the user. The customer inputs their data to create a profile. You answer questions such as; “do you enjoy shopping?” and “how much time do you put into getting ready in the morning” to generate a personalized experience. There are a lot of different technologies that go into making this tool/application successful. Some of these include; recommendation systems, human computation (harnessing human intelligence to solve computational issues), logistics optimization, state machines ( a machine can have different states, but only fulfill one at a time), demand modelling, inventory management, and a data platform (customer database that is accessible to other systems).

Image: Pexels

To Conclude

Artificial intelligence has many benefits in the fashion industry, including the use of online fashion assistants to improve customer experience, trend prediction, and producing more sustainable solutions. In a consumer-driven age, we must get the right message across to them and encourage them to participate in this discussion as we move toward a more digital age. As Howard Mittman (CEO of Bleacher Report) has said: “Content is King but engagement is Queen and she wears the pants.”

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