The internet was sent into a frenzy days ago when an image of Pope Francis donning a huge white puffer jacket with a cross hanging from it became viral across social media platforms.
The photo said to have been created using an AI (artificial intelligence) image generator called Midjourney was outrageous enough to have elicited comments from many.
But what does the fake AI image of Pope Francis in a puffer coat generated by a 31-year-old construction worker from Chicago who has since claimed ownership of the viral photo really mean for the world of fashion moving forward.
Visual merchandising and collection creation
AI could also solve problems with visual merchandising. As brands open more store locations, they need visual merchandising that expresses the brand identity globally but is also tailored to the context of each store. Head visual merchandisers rarely lay out every store in a brand’s fleet due to costs and time constraints.
“If you were able to train learning programs, based on the instincts and intuitions of your best virtual visual merchandisers, using AI, then you could bring their voice, style and capabilities to each shop door each season,” said Roberts.
Even fashion shows, which have already undergone somewhat of a transformation, are set to undergo change due to AI. Matthew Drinkwater, head of the emerging technology company Fashion Innovation Agency, has been experimenting with AI uses for the catwalks since leading an AI-focused course at the London College of Fashion during the pandemic. With students not being able to showcase their final work in 2020, Drinkwater worked with the FIA using archival show footage and skeletal data from the moving models to create a virtual runway show. The project was reimagined this year to include photorealistic models and AI and was released on March 21 via LinkedIn.
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“The earlier catwalk had a huge amount of manual labor work involved,” said Drinkwater. “While that’s not to say that this wasn’t the case this time, as there were very specific skill sets required to deliver this with the tools, creating this kind of experience is much more [manageable]. That’s especially with the availability of AI tools like text prompt-to-video, which AI platform Runway AI launched this week.”
“The video component is going to take it to the next level of engagement. The images are obviously very cool, but when it’s a video, people stop and look and take their time,” said Long.
AI is faster to implement than the metaverse
With the metaverse, “a combination of many things has to come together in the right way to create a really great experience. That’s not the case with AI.” said Roberts, explaining, “Your current software can add features that will just make it better. It doesn’t require everyone to show up with headsets or create entirely new platforms. That’s why there is a shorter hype cycle, from everyone talking about AI to people using it and it having CFO-relevant impact.”
With companies aiming to cut costs due to recession-related concerns, AI use could be leveraged to cut labor costs. “Its bottom-line impact suggests that this is something that needs to be top of mind for the CTOs and the CFOs. In many cases, it will replace repetitive parts of human work, allowing staff to carry out projects more quickly — but it cannot be a replacement.”
Drinkwater added, “It’s the combination of things that we can put together, like our use of machine learning, artificial intelligence and immersive experiences, which will start to deliver those next-generation immersive experiences.”