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14 July 2022

The impact of Artificial Intelligence on fashion industry

Thanks to Artificial Intelligence, the fashion industry can improve many aspects of the business.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is no longer a thing of the future. In fact, it is already impacting different industries, including fashion. In this blog post, we will see what AI is, how it works, and how it can help fashion brands. We will also suggest which technologies they need to implement AI in their processes.

What is Artificial Intelligence and how does it work?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a term that was first coined in 1956 by computer scientist John McCarthy. AI is defined as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines,” where an intelligent machine is a machine that can perform tasks that are typically done by humans, such as understanding natural language, recognizing objects or learning from past events. 

As suggested by Britannica, AI follows 2 different methods: the symbolic (or “top-down”) approach, and the connectionist (or “bottom-up”) approach. 

The top-down approach does not consider the biological structure of the brain and focuses on symbol processing. Conversely, the bottom-up approach involves the creation of artificial neural networks that mimic the brain. 

To understand the difference, imagine a system, equipped with an optical scanner, which recognizes the letters of the alphabet. Following the bottom-up approach, AI learns letters by training an artificial neural network, gradually improving performance. Instead, a top-down approach requires writing software that allows the AI to compare letters with geometric descriptions.

Human and robotic hand pointing at a hologram.

How can AI help the fashion industry?

There are many ways AI can help the fashion industry. AI can help with tasks such as trend forecasting, product development, and even customer service. 

  • Predict trends
    This is probably the most obvious use.
    Artificial intelligence is not only able to analyze a huge amount of data but can also make up for gaps. For example, it is able to guess the behavior of online users even when they have not given consent to tracking via cookies.
    This means that fashion brands have a powerful tool to understand future trends, starting from past or current data. The data can be the most varied: consumption habits, site traffic, sales data, preferred purchase channels, personal data.
    Data analytics is useful for a variety of purposes: from developing new products to better inventory management to reduce unsold sales, to marketing and after-sales services.
     
  • Design new products
    AI is great for developing new products. For example, it allows you to create realistic and detailed digital prototypes. This allows designers to try out different designs without having to create a physical prototype. It is great for giving them maximum creative freedom. In addition, it takes less time and has a positive impact on environmental sustainability. Physical samples, in fact, represent potential waste and their "digitization" solves disposal or archiving at the root.
     
  • Customized products
    AI can also be used to create customized products for customers. For example, some shoe brands are already using AI to create personalized shoes. This is done by scanning the client's foot, then the AI analyzes the shape of the foot and the required aesthetic criteria and designs the ideal shoe for that client. Custom products are not only more likely to fit better, but consumers are sure to like them more! Therefore, greater personalization encourages purchases and, at the same time, minimizes the production of unsold items to be disposed of. This is good for the company's economy and, again, for the environment.
     
  • Create content
    To improve eCommerce performance, brands must invest in presenting an ever richer and more detailed digital representation of the product, which means they must produce vast quantities of content. From product descriptions, photography and video to metadata describing suggested looks and similar items. AI enables brands to create industrial scale content productions with very small creative teams, such as writing product descriptions, and creating related product recommendations that are updated as product inventory changes. AI can now create realistic fashion photography eliminating the cost of expensive models.
     
  • Fight counterfeiting
    Counterfeit detection requires experience, expertise and a trained eye. Despite this, there is always a margin for error, since counterfeiters are becoming better and better at replicating products. Artificial intelligence is more precise and faster.
    And it's not just a tool for customs officials!
    Similar to second-hand products, companies can use artificial intelligence to examine and identify potentially counterfeit products by relying on huge online data sets and images. For example, at Certilogo we use AI precisely to identify fake garments for our customers, and therefore reduce the customer care interventions associated with counterfeiting disputes.
     
  • Support the second-hand market
    Concepts such as reuse or resell are becoming normal, especially for Gen-Z, that’s why more and more fashion brands are embracing the circular economy. But the second-hand market can be a jungle: how can customers be sure about the price, the size or the state of the product they want to buy online?
    Fashion brands can rely on AI to study clothing ads (through image analysis) and develop pricing models, by recognizing the characteristics associated with specific price and products, and building reliable models for price predictions. Reliable pricing allows customers to confidently participate in the second-hand clothing market.
     
  • Offer a better customer experience
    New technologies help fashion brands to improve all stages of the customer journey. Thanks to data analytics, brands can identify the wishes and needs of consumers and offer them, for example, engaging online content and tailored advertisements.
    Thanks to data analytics, brands can identify the wishes and needs of consumers and offer them, for example, engaging online content and tailored advertisements. They can help customers find the best products on their e-commerce or offer better customer service through automated chatbots.
    But the potential of AI is much greater!
    Fashion brands can create apps that help e-commerce users figure out the right size through a selfie with their smartphone. Or, they can place smart mirrors in the stores with which customers can virtually try on different clothes and outfits without the need for changing rooms.
    And what about the Metaverse? The Metaverse is based on artificial intelligence and it is becoming the new frontier for selling real and digital garments, NFT, and organizing fashion shows.

Hands drawing a coat on an ipad.

Artificial Intelligence: is it worth it?

Undoubtedly, to implement artificial intelligence, fashion brands need data, tools and computing power. They also need to have trained staff, who can work with AI technology, or collaborate with specialised partners. All this requires an investment in terms of time, money and human resources.

Is it worth it? Absolutely yes.

While many technologies are still in their infancy, investments in digitization will always pay off.

And it's not just a question of image. Consumers, especially younger generations, expect to find companies through the channels and tools they use. Those brands that do not adapt, are going to leave room for those competitors who are more attentive to market changes.