New York Fashion Week (NYFW) has long been a place for the latest and greatest in the fashion world to showcase their newest collections. This year, however, it was also a showcase for the latest and greatest in artificial intelligence (AI), after designers employed various new technologies to create, exhibit, and market their collections.
Interestingly, AI has been making waves in the fashion scene for quite some time now, but its use in the industry seems to have skyrocketed since image synthesis tech has finally come of age over the past year. Alongside the use of big data and augmented reality, AI-assisted design is currently one of the hottest frontiers of tech in fashion.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the weird and unusual world of AI-powered image synthesis, this term refers to the process of creating original digital images from simple text prompts. It’s something that machine learning algorithms have gotten quite good at lately, with a number of technologies in the space having rolled out in 2022, prompting wider adoption in several industries, including fashion design and visual content creation.
In fact, these visual syntheses engines are now so good that some AI-created images are winning national-level art competitions, which is undoubtedly making many human artists nervous about their future prospects.
Moving back to the fashion scene, a few weeks prior to NYFW, Los Angeles-based director Paul Trillo used DALL-E 2’s text-to-image platform to produce a staggering 30-second fashion show featuring hundreds of looks. The scene depicts a model in a forested landscape wearing rapidly changing clothing items, most of which were synthetic creations made possible through the DALL-E 2 platform.
“It opened the door to some pretty wild designs that I would have never come to on my own,” stated Trillo. He later went on to describe AI’s power and potential as “limitless and overwhelming.”
Most notably, melding AI, AR, and Web3 tech at NYFW 2022 itself were the events produced by Nolcha Shows, giving independent fashion designers a platform to showcase their collections to a global audience of press, retailers, stylists, and industry influencers.
This year, Nolcha teamed up with Perfect Corp, one of the leaders at the forefront of the beauty and fashion technology industry, and they use cutting-edge technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and augmented reality (AR). At the event, people were able to try on a variety of beauty looks virtually and featured statement accessories in the award-winning YouCam Makeup app.
“We are excited to partner with the innovative minds behind the Nolcha Shows to elevate the New York Fashion Week experience to the next level, offering fashion lovers the chance to immerse themselves in the glamourous looks through virtual AR beauty try-ons,” said Perfect Corp. CEO, Alice Chang.
“It’s an exciting opportunity to seamlessly marry the capabilities of AR and AI with the glamour of the fashion and beauty industry, bringing an authentic New York Fashion Week experience to audiences around the globe,” she added.
Proper text-to-image AI was originally introduced to NYFW back in February after fashion designer Park Youn-hee released a fashion line fully designed by AI. This time, the AI in question is referred to as Tilda, which was developed by LG.
Last December, LG’s artificial intelligence institute unveiled its latest development, a hyper-scale AI engine called Exaone. Tilda is the engine’s first AI-based human. Amazingly, Tilda was able to design 200 outfits based on its own machine learning of more than 3,000 patterns and images, which helped Park to create her line in record time.
“In the past, I had to work with dozens of designers for months to get inspiration and prepare a collection,” Park said. “With Tilda, I finished the work in a month and a half.”
Interestingly, veteran model and perennial fashion scenester Maye Musk has also experimented with a similar technology to help create new fashion design ideas, drawing on the inspiration she picked up at New York Fashion Week this year.
With the help of Facetune’s new text-to-image AI engine, developed by Lightricks, Musk has been able to generate one-of-a-kind looks merely by using a few text prompts on Facetune’s UI. “I love butterflies in outer space,” she says in the voiceover of a recent Instagram post, as she demonstrates the process of synthesizing visuals and applying them as patterns on garments. “Now you can see them on my suit.”
In many ways, this goes to show some of the practical applications of AI in the fashion industry, as well as how it can be used to enhance the experience of attending a major fashion event like the New York Fashion Week. However, it also raises some more significant questions about the future of fashion and how AI will change the industry as a whole.
Will we still need runaway models if we can simply create AI-generated images of what the clothes will look like and try them on virtually? Will AI eventually replace human designers altogether?
The technology has only begun to mature, but it’s safe to say that AI is already having a major impact on the fashion industry, and as its capabilities continue to grow, that impact is only going to get bigger.