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Oomph factor of fashion and the AI

When ChatGPT reached 100 million users in just two months of its launch, all thought that the tech industry had taken a big leap. Its link with the fashion industry, the thought did not even occur. But soon, the AI started to evolve, and even before it could strike our heads, AI had begun to touch and redefine almost every industry to the extent that the technology learned to write stories, draw a scenery and even create the never-seen-before designs at the utter of a word.

This rapid evolution of the AI has in particular come as a boon for the fashion industry, a place where the biggest challenge has always been not just to understand the consumer psyche but also anticipate what they would desire next.

French luxury fashion houses Louis Vuitton (LVMH) and Christian Dior jumped onto the AI bandwagon as early as 2021, setting their sights on wealthy customers to give them a personalised experience while shopping online.

“This will help them understand the consumer better,” said Google Cloud CEO, Thomas Kurian after clinching the deal to tap its artificial intelligence to power up the fashion houses.

It was the pandemic that made the shopper, who in those distressing times was left with no choice, to switch aggressively to online platforms, and in the process became accustomed to buying even high-end products without seeing or touching them in a store. Personal luxury-goods market saw a return to profit during the pandemic, when most other sectors were struggling, largely due to a boost in online demand, says a report by Bain & Co. The share of online buys almost doubled to 23% in 2020 (when pandemic had reared its ugly head) from 12% the year before. The consultancy estimates the same to represent 30% of the market by 2025.

Over the next four years, generative AI has the potential to add up to $275 billion in operating profits for the apparel, fashion and luxury sectors, says an analysis by global management consultancy McKinsey.

Apart from Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior, the big players in the industry which scripted fashion’s next chapter by channelising the AI are Gucci, Prada, Valentino, H&M, not to forget Levi’s.

Gucci expands India presence with new store at Jio World Plaza, MumbaiGucci stepped into the world of AI in collaboration with Christie’s. Their digital artists blended fashion, art and technology – a first of its kind – and created artworks using generative AI. These artworks were then put up for sale, and to everyone’s surprise fetched between $1,800 to $417,000 apiece. The creation made headlines across the world and generated never-seen-before consumer response. Here, the power of AI in fashion industry took its first step.

Prada powered it up further with the launch of an AI-generated campaign for its Prada Paradoxe fragrance range. And the luxury house didn’t stop there. It launched a collection of makeup products that had shades of foundation generated by AI, soon to hit the right cord with the shopper. With this, the fashion giant set an example of how the technology can captivate and increase the retention time of the shopper on the floor.

Valentino took the AI game to another game-changing level by amalgamating the human and the machine. It launched its ‘Essentials’ line accompanied by a campaign which was shot entirely using AI. Each image in the campaign was clicked using the text-to-image system with written prompts. Again, the made headlines globally.

Pushing it further, H&M opened a new frontier in the fashion industry where shoppers played the designer through its new AI platform. The shoppers expressed their design requirements through written prompts, and the fashion house later printed it onto fabrics, turning fiction into reality. The shopper just visualises, and the product is ready.

Levi’s is in fact beating all its peers in the fashion industry in the adoption of AI. The company plans to add a diverse range of new fashion models to its lineup using AI. The models that you would see donning a Levi’s, may soon well be AI-generated ones. The company says the move would increase diversity.

AI is not only helping the fashion powerhouses make targeted products but also playing the soothsayer by predicting future demand trends. And all this at a voice command, thanks to the AI algorithms that can process and optimise abysmal amounts of data, including videos, from social media, e-platforms and fashion events.

The AI has also made the job of the creative designer simpler and streamlined. They can now feed the mammoth data collected by the AI back to the AI along with their inputs on fabrics, colours and patterns; and the AI throws up an array of designs they can choose from. Rightly said in the context by YouTube chief executive officer Neal Mohan: “For the year 2024, AI should empower human creativity, not replace it. And everyone should have access to AI tools that will push the boundaries of creative expression.”

Supply chain management is another facet that is revitalising the entire fashion industry. AI platforms are capable of sifting through historical inventory levels and sales performance. This is helping businesses make well-informed decisions about what to stock and when, saving their time and cost.

Topping it all, the fathomless data processed by AI is making the fashion industry players understand and do away with the redundant. They now know what just won’t click with the shoppers, courtesy AI.

India is among the top 10 countries when we speak of tech advancements and funding in AI, according to The Brookings Institutions. However, the index on AI adaptability, according to Nasscom, the leading voice for the $245 billion technology industry in India, places India at 2.45 out of 4. This well implies that India is just getting introduced to AI.

“I think the economic data I’ve seen is if the Indian economy is going to be $5 trillion, the AI-driven part of it could be something like maybe 10% of it, maybe $500 billion of it,” said Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella in a recent interview.

Given the population, and the data that tags along with it, the innovations and the funding that’s been happening in AI, India taking the helm of AI on a global stage is no doubt insinuated in a not-so-far future.

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