AI's Influence on the Fashion Industry
Thu, April 22, 2021

AI's Influence on the Fashion Industry

Of all the industries in the world, the low-tech fashion industry would seem to be one of the last to turn its creative direction to modern technologies, particularly artificial intelligence / Photo by: Wavebreak Media Ltd via 123RF

 

Of all the industries in the world, the low-tech fashion industry would seem to be one of the last to turn its creative direction to modern technologies, particularly artificial intelligence. For years, the $3-trillion industry has been dependent on its designers and creative directors for the creation and release the most trending fashion styles. Zowie Broach, head of fashion at London’s Royal College of Arts, stated that the fashion industry has been slow to understand the potential roles of AI.

But just like other sectors, the fashion industry is slowly embracing AI. A recent report showed that the global AI in the fashion market is expected to reach $4,391.7 million by 2027 from only $270 million in 2018 – with a CAGR of 36.9% over the forecast period. According to TechSci Research, a global market research and consulting service provider that offers high-quality off-the-shelf market research syndicated reports across a broad range of industries, AI in fashion is expected to grow at a formidable rate due to the increasing adoption of social media and rising digitalization. 

“US AI in the fashion market is expected to witness significant growth during the forecast period, owing to the increasing awareness of inventory management and rising need for cost reduction. Additionally, the presence of leading players such as Google, Microsoft, IBM, among others in the country is further expected to propel the market over the coming years,” Karan Chechi, Research Director with TechSci Research, a research-based global management consulting firm, said. 

A report by Juniper Research also showed that the annual spending of AI in the fashion industry is projected to increase by nearly quadruple, from only $2 billion in 2018 to $7.3 billion by 2022. The main drivers of global AI in the fashion market’s growth include customers' demand for a personalized experience, the increasing need for inventory management, and the growing influence of social media in the fashion industry. As of now, AI is playing a huge role in sales, marketing, and customer-focused purposes in the fashion industry. 

However, experts have been warning the fashion industry about the impacts of AI. A 2019 study by Insight Partners warned that concerns related to data privacy and security are anticipated to hinder market growth in the coming years, despite the increasing interest in the industry to adapt and apply cognitive science.

Promoting and Selling Fashion Goods

Every year, thousands of fashion designs are released by fashion companies to address the increasing demand for apparel. Thus, many brands are constantly looking for new ways to get their goods in front of buyers and create awareness and demand in the market. They started investing and leveraging AI and machine learning for several reasons: to improve the efficiency of sales systems through intelligent automation, maximize users’ shopping experience, and enhance the sales processes using predictive analytics and guided sales processes.

According to Forbes, a global media company focusing on business, investing, technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, and lifestyle, fashion brands are also using eCommerce and mobile apps powered by AI so they can help customers take pictures of clothing they like or styles they want to imitate. These apps allow them to identify shoppable apparel and accessories in that photo, take screenshots of clothes they see online, and then find the same outfit and shop for similar styles.

At the same time, conversational assistants through chatbots and voice assistant devices such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana are popular with fashion brands. They use these technologies to undersrand customer desires and trends, dive deeper into their purchase patterns, and suggest related and add-on items.

Every year, thousands of fashion designs are released by fashion companies to address the increasing demand for apparel. Thus, many brands are constantly looking for new ways to get their goods in front of buyers and create awareness and demand in the market / Photo by: Peter Bernik via 123RF

 

AI Can Give Fashion Advice

Usually, people turn to magazines or Instagram to look for fashion recommendations, but this might soon change as researchers from the University of Texas at Austin developed an AI system named Fashion++. The tool can analyze the color, pattern, texture, and shape of garments in an image using visual recognition systems. Aside from considering all these factors, it can also offer several alternative outfits to the user.

"We thought of it like a friend giving you feedback. It's also motivated by a practical idea: that we can work with a given outfit to make small changes so it's just a bit better,” Kristen Grauman, a professor of computer science whose previous research has largely focused on visual recognition for AI, said. 

Fashion++ was developed last 2019 in collaboration with researchers from Cornell Tech, Georgia Tech, and Facebook AI Research. It is programmed to look at a photo of an outfit and suggest ways to make it more fashionable. According to Science Daily, an American website that aggregates press releases and publishes lightly edited press releases about science, the new AI system was trained using more than 10,000 images of outfits shared publicly on online sites for fashion enthusiasts.

Co-author Kimberly Hsiao stated that she mixed images of fashionable outfits to create less-fashionable examples and trained the system on what not to wear. "As fashion styles evolve, the AI can continue to learn by giving it new images, which are abundant on the internet," she said. 

An AI Tool to Help Customers Find Similar Clothes and Styles

Last year, Amazon introduced a new AI-powered tool named StyleSnap that aims to help customers find clothes to buy. The tool was built into Amazon’s mobile application, which allows users to either take photos or source the picture of something they want to buy and upload it on the app. It then uses machine learning to “match the look in the photo” and look for similar garments being sold on Amazon.com.

According to The Verge, an American technology news and media network, StyleSnap was launched in Las Vegas by Amazon’s consumer worldwide CEO Jeff Wilke. During the launch, Wilke said, “The simplicity of the customer experience belies the complexity of the technology behind it.”

These applications and tools showed that AI has great potential in revolutionizing the fashion industry. This would allow customers to look for the outfits and styles that they want without hassle.