Imagine you are at an end-of-season apparel and accessory sale and you come across a high end couture cocktail saree on a 70% off. "Hmm... let us see if this is a real deal or not. ", you mutter to yourself. Out comes your phone and a few easy taps later your phone exclaims with a digital beep, that the product is indeed an original and is in fact even the best steal you could get for your buck.
Welcome to the AI fashion revolution
Very soon, this may be a reality and you will get to use AI at the tap of your phone to tell the fake from the real using powerful algorithms that may scan a product to check its quality and perhaps even an embedded unique smart product code.
So talk of AI or artificial intelligence as a technology is nothing new. It is a concept that been around almost since the 1950's and although back then it was more a fascinating myth for most of us, today many of us are avid users with AI based voice recognition systems like SIRI or Echo and the Netflix recommendation system, and it has already made its presence felt in the in the fashion retail sector as well.
AI and Fashion retail: A match made in heaven
AI has already made its presence felt in the fashion Industry with its use for three key areas.
The simplest and most common use is the retail platforms where AI equipped digital mirrors and smart changing rooms which intuitively make suggestions for coordinating garments and upselling other products via brick and mortar stores.
Its use at the back-end to predict fashion trends and include intuitive design is also gaining popularity. Fashion houses are hard pressed to get it right with a business model that relies on predicting style and fashion predilections pertaining to fabrics, colors, patterns, silhouettes, and styles authoritatively and correctly for up to 52 "micro-seasons"- one for each week of the year.
Even automation of inventory with smart AI driven systems is a formula that a giant like Amazon has added to its forte to stay ahead of the pack for achieving cost leadership.
AI is increasingly becoming a more pervasive and integral part of our fashion retail and very soon it will even permeate more by automating back-end aspects of production, sorting through consumer data with unprecedented levels of speed and accuracy and increasing the wow factor in both brick and mortar as well as the online store experience for consumers.
Consumers flock to AI enhanced Fashion retail
Consumers too have shown an increasing propensity towards usage of AI in conjunction with Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality for a richer and enhanced shopping experience.
A good example is a leading brand's Virtual Stylist which recommends the right sized jeans to its customers.
Demand Projection is the next big move with AI in fashion design
The hardest task for fashion makers today is to correctly predict demand trends and AI is making big leaps in that area.
The technology is increasingly geared towards algorithmic analysis of large chunks of visual data from social platforms and identify usage pattern accurate enough to recognize micro trends and hence optimize consumer satisfaction.
So very soon not only would AI be helping the design process, it even might supersede the designer in this process.
How intelligent is AI for fashion consciousness ?
The whole technology depends on how similar one consumer is to another. So there are pitfalls to the core strengths of this technology as any other.
For instance, as much as fashion is a matter of trends and following a style, it is a powerful medium of discovering and expressing of the self.
With the focus of AI on a homogenized approach to fashion that would cater to the numbers and not necessarily to particular taste.
With the emergence of this innovative approach to fashion there are also loopholes that need to be addressed.
Questions such as how would AI address the issue of gender, race or cultural identity are emerging as valid concerns for both consumers as well as fashion makers.
Another concern is for fashion created as couture. When no two pieces are alike how does an algorithm accommodate a product like that in the inventory and who is the target consumer ? If you take the example of a largely handmade inventory for say - bespoke Indian Ethnic wear , how can data patterns help them optimize business ? Questions remain.
While a hyper personalized website may appear as a good idea at first it may not appeal to people who see it as being forced into a bubble of self limiting choices directed by an algorithm.
Fashion has always been about being seen and noticed and one thing AI will have to get right is to avoid the tendency to create a population of people dressed in a uniform trend, allowing greater room for creativity.
Feature image: Bloomberg
Article By : Bhavna R