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Published: 10 November 2018

By Andy Ross

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Fashion and Artificial Intelligence

The fashion world has adopted Artificial Intelligence with the potential to change the industry. 

Across the world the textile industry, at least where clothes are concerned, is hugely wasteful.  The industry creates and destroys many thousands of tonnes of product each year, and these products take energy to make in the first place. So the use of AI to predict what people are buying and wearing may be a useful tool in the fight against waste. 

In effect AI looks at thousands of pictures taken from social media and analyses trends. It is theoretically possible to find out what is trending and to make for that market. That means manufacturers can reduce unsold inventory and create less, which in turn means less waste. 

Of course, we all like to think that we are individual and so the thought that we are being analysed in this way is slightly Big Brother-ish. There are negatives as well as positives to this use of technology. Yes, less waste and less energy being used to create unwated stock is a good thing, but are we being denied choice and option?

In the clip from the BBC the example of blue being a colour that Japanese people no longer wear is highlighted. to me that means people are making a conscious choice to avoid the colour and that is what the AI is picking up. However that does not mean no-one is wearing blue. It simply means that most of the feeds that the AI is analysing do not have blue clothes in them. To me it implies that there is a gap in the market for a small-scale independent company to make exclusive blue clothes for those people who like to buy blue. After all, none of the big companies are making that colour any more! So I think AI could be a win-win situation. More small artisan companies picking up what the big companies are dropping and less waste for the planet! 

What do you think? Is AI good for us, good for fashion and the world, or is it a dystopian future that we are heading for? If you have a view, let us know!