AI as a creative tool? The idea is getting more and more attention among labels and designers, as I have adressed in previous blog posts. The other day the italian online retailer Yoox (who is a part of the Net-a-porter group) announced a new, yet unnamed label. The new collection will be informed by data, but still be designed by the human creative team, The Current Daily reports.
“By using the data, we think the creative team can interpret better our customer needs going forward, Federico Marchetti, CEO of the Net-a-porter group, said when speaking at a Wired Smarter conference on Monday.
The YNAP aren’t newcomers when it comes to AI. Their logistics center is already fully automated and they have also given their personal shoppers an AI tool to help them give better advice to customers.
Using it in the creative process though, opens up for concerns about what it does to creativity.
Do human creativity and machines really mix? Marchetti wants to explore that. Maybe in the future we will see labels like ”Made in Italy” replaced by ”Made by humans”, he suggested.
“Man is about emotions. It’s about beauty. It’s about feelings. The machine is about speed, information power and the future. Can these two worlds co-exist? We must make choices to strike the right balance.”.
The fashion world is currently being flooded with all kinds of tech. Some of them aim to make online shopping easier, others to technically enhance the clothing itself, while yet others are all about the holy grail of it all: style.
That mysterious quality close to the concept of taste – hard to grasp, hard to just acquire. More like something you either have or don’t have, a personal trait that just seems magic in a way.
But what happens when technology starts to claim to know something about style? Is it even possible? Well, there are several attempts actually. Like Amazon’s style assistant Echo Look that analyses your outfit through a combination of algorithms and human fashion specialists. Meanwhile StitchFix sends users clothing suggestions by cross-referencing a client’s preferences with what others of similar age and demographic have bought. Meanwhile Matchesfashion.com works with personalized avatars that can try on digital clothing samples to help you see what it might look like on your body, while Net-a-Porter is trying a type of tech that will creep right into your data looking for info on what you plan to do next (events, trips and the likes) – and suggesting purchases accordingly, as reported in The Guardian.
But is that style though? And does all this help us require it? Well, I guess that depends on what we feed the algorithms. If we tell them to check for mass approval (likes on social media for instance or whatever has worked in the past) we will get just that and no progress at all. But on the other hand, are we comfortable programming algorithms to be audacious and bold the way our human style role models are?
Maybe that is the kind of trait we still prefer in humans.
How about if you could search on specific features you’re looking fo in a piece of clothing, instead of just browsing endless amounts of items until you find what you’re looking for? Fast fashion brand Forever 21 just launched a visual search tool for online shopping, that helps with that. In their feature ”Discover your style”, shoppers can click on features such as sleeve, neckline and cut and under each category find images of the different features instead of text. In other words, you don’t have to know the correct term for feature you’re looking for, you just have to know what it looks like.
The company hopes that this will help shoppers with their more subtle likes and dislikes, and also remove language barriers for shoppers.
Above all, I think it will save shoppers valuable time, not having to browse through the enormous range of products within each category, that fast fashion brands are associated with.
With the demise of several smart jewellery companies this year, it’s refreshing to see Swarg Tech’s new piece of smart jewellery Sahki, with its beautiful jewel embellishments. So what about the tech specs?
Well, apart from the fitness tracker and SOS trigger you see in most wearables, this one also has a child tracking mode and an integrated AI voice assistant to help you add items to your shopping list or switch on the lights for instance.
With the growing popularity of voice assistants, it is likely that the integration of them into smart jewllery might be a winning combo.
Last October, Amazon bought 3D model company Body Labs, their first step towards creating a virtual try-on service for clothes.
Now Amazon are inviting people to have their bodies scanned at their New York office, The Wall Street Journal reports. The participants are being asked to return every two weeks to have their bodies scanned over a total of 20 weeks. They also need to answer questions about fitness, health and weight-related loss and goals, in order for Amazon to understand how bodies shape over time.
In January , the tech giant patented a blended reality mirror that lets you that lets you try on clothes virtually, a step up from their style assistant Echo Look Camera, released a year ago.
Body Labs 3D Scan
Speaking about L’Oreal – the company actually showcased one of their existing beauty tech services at SXSW the other day. A couple of years ago, their Innovation Lab developed a dispenser using artificial intelligence to mix foundation specifically adapted to the user’s skin. What it does, is that it collects data from three points in the users face and this data is picked up by an algorithm that identifies the levels of cyan, magenta and yellow in the customer’s skin.
The company actually debuted this tech exclusively at store chain Nordstrom in 2016, but according to Decoded Fashion it is still the most advanced innovation out there as of yet.
And foundation shades continue to remain a hard nut to crack for consumers. Although many brands provide a much wider range of shades these days, it can still be tricky to find the absolute right shade for your individual skin tone.
So I imagine that using data to come to terms with this might be worth quite a lot.
Algorithms are commonly used to educate fashion designers on what is wanted and needed in the market. They are also used as problem solvers, like with soft-ware solution Savitude, that uses AI to recommend clothing based on the customers shape and proportions. (Finding clothes in the right size and fit remains a challenge for most online consumers).
But there might also be creative aspects to AI beyond its obvious function as a tool, as an article in Business of Fashion implicates. At least according to some of the experts talking about AI and design at SXSW during this week.
Fashion designer Gretchen Jones for instance, has researched the role of data in fashion at University of Arts in London. She found that data analytics actually can be valuable in the creative process because it can help the designers understand the customer’s emotional connection to the brand.
Other experts such as Jenna Niven, creative director at advertising agency R/GA and Eric Colson, who is chief algorithms officer at Stitch Fix, are both into the idea of AI as an inspirational tool.
According to them, AI can actually serve as a source of creative inspiration for designers, through its capacity for analyzing huge amounts of data and coming up with lots of design combinations, faster than a human can. The idea is that machines can expand the number of possibilities that a designer can consider in their working process.
AI as a design assistant if you will. And why not?