By Marc Bain, Business of Fashion
From ChatGPT to Midjourney to Runway, the emerging technology is already showing why it could be one of the most consequential in decades for the fashion industry. Early adopters and experts unpack the opportunities and challenges of putting gen AI to use to design products, create campaigns and other content, and better connect with customers.
- Because of its flexibility and variety of uses, the technology could be one of the most consequential in decades for fashion.
- Businesses that have begun using generative AI report enhanced creativity and greater efficiency as it allows them to more easily execute ideas and automate time-consuming work.
- The technology is still in its early stages and comes with risks, both for businesses and their employees, but experts expect a rapid pace of improvement, expanding its possible uses
In 2018, an artist named Robbie Barrat conceived an entire fashion collection in the style of Balenciaga using artificial intelligence. Barrat had to train his own AI model on images of existing looks he gathered himself, and the output wasn’t perfect. Much of it appeared smudged and distorted. But it was enough to capture fashion’s attention, landing him an interview with Ssense and a collaboration with Acne Studios.
Just a few years later, anyone with a computer can essentially create a collection — with less work and more photorealistic results than Barrat’s earlier attempt — using new generative-AI tools.
Generative AI, which describes machine learning algorithms capable of creating new content, is set to have a major impact on fashion brands. Trained on a sufficient number of examples, these algorithms recognise the underlying patterns and structures in data and create novel examples of their own. Some tools, such as DALL-E 2, Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, can produce images. Others, such as ChatGPT, can generate text. Still others are capable of making videos, like Runway. But all are able to create their content from text prompts, promising a wide array of uses.
Though generative AI grabbed attention with the deluge of user-generated memes it unleashed online, like a video reimagining the Harry Potter movies in the style of Balenciaga, its greatest impact could be on businesses. Tech giants such as Microsoft and Google are racing to incorporate it into their core products, while industries from healthcare to finance are looking for ways to use it to lift labour productivity and a wave of start-ups are building enterprise applications. Goldman Sachs analysts estimate that, once generative AI is widely adopted, it could boost US productivity by 1.5 percentage points per year for a decade, ultimately increasing S&P 500 profits 30 percent or more over that period.