Fashion is no stranger to innovation. After all, creativity is its bedrock. So, it shouldn’t be surprising how much this industry has been affected by the various advancements in technology over the past few years. And we’re not just talking about the design aspect, though we will be tackling that. Technology has definitely opened up new opportunities for this industry, ranging from the creation of new processes to the adoption of new materials.
Technology has become so far advanced that it has enabled fashion designers to gain a better understanding of their customers’ wants and needs.
Artificial intelligence has been used in a number of industries to design their products. In the fashion industry, AI is being used to design clothes that it predicts people will want next.
Google, for instance, launched Project Muze in 2016. It’s an experiment on user-driven AI fashion design that they conducted with Zalando, a German-based fashion platform. The project involved training a neural network to understand various concepts of fashion (i.e. color, style, texture) based on data gathered by Zalando and Google’s Fashion Trend Report. Using that data, they developed an algorithm that would enable the AI to create designs based on the interests of the users and their style preferences.
Amazon is also using machine learning to determine if an item is “stylish” or not. In addition, their R&D lab used images to learn about fashion styles and enable them to create similar images from scratch. This kind of “fast fashion” led to Amazon’s development of a manufacturing system in 2017 that allowed them to offer on-demand apparel-making.
That’s not all. The gap between human designers and AI designers is closing fast, especially with the introduction of the AI designer called DeepVogue which was built by Chinese tech firm Shenlan Technology. The system creates original designs through deep learning which draws from images, themes, and keywords provided by human designers.
Aside from the AI designer, technology has also enabled the fashion industry to offer more personalized items to their customers. For example, custom 3D printing has enabled New Balance to offer personalized insoles using scanned biometric data. Ministry of Supply, a brand of performance professional apparel, uses an in-store 3D printer to create customized knitwear. In fact, you can get a customized blazer from their store in just 90 minutes. Not only can customers get the perfect fit, but the company was also able to reduce the amount of waste produced by 35%.
Technology has also had a big impact on how clothing items are being manufactured today. In the past, fashion has always been seasonal. Clothes designed for spring and summer are often introduced in early fall while designs for the colder seasons are often debuted in February. This kind of timeline is due to the fact that brands need enough time to assess how much demand there will be and produce the necessary inventory.
That’s no longer the case. People have become more impatient and trends can flip on a dime. One way companies have dealt with this change is through supply-chain optimization via in-house production. Instead of sourcing their needs from other businesses, a number of companies have decided to run the entire process, from material sourcing to production and shipping, all under one roof to improve efficiency and speed up production as well as delivery. Two examples of companies that have done this are Gucci and Suuchi Ramesh.
Another way technology has allowed the fashion industry to face the change in customer expectations is by enabling “fashion on demand.” Instead of anticipating what customers will be interested in, companies are focusing on just-in-time production. Shorter, smaller made-to-order production cycles allow them to cut costs on inventory management and waste while reducing the possibility of overstocking.
One company that is doing this is Dressarte, a Parisian brand, which offers 100% customizable, sustainable clothing. Several big companies are also following this trend such as Zara, Uniqlo, and Boohoo.
The influence of technology on fashion is not limited to design and manufacturing. Several manufacturers are investing in bioengineering to create new fabrics and fibers. For example, Japanese company Spiber is creating new technology to produce fibers and fabrics that are similar to spider silk. Modern Meadows, a leading leather manufacturer, is investing in technology to create leather without using animals. Instead, they use live collagen cells to create a leather “hide” that has the same aesthetic and structural characteristics as real leather.
About the author: Louisa is a content marketing professional and editor creating her successful career past 2 years at D3D Printing. She is a goal-oriented, creative individual with a unique voice in writing, editing, and optimizing content for various projects. She’s a devoted mom and an excellent piano player.