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How AI is creating the future of fashion

Fashion

Published by:

13 November 2019

Author: Rhiannon McGregor

Image: DEEP by The Fabricant and Amber Jae Slooten

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Amber Jae Slooten, co-founder and creative director of The Fabricant, discusses how artificial intelligence can be used creatively within the design process to envisage otherwise unimagined forms.

Can you begin by introducing The Fabricant?

The Fabricant is a digital fashion house that creates collections and editorials that only exist in the digital space. Essentially, we make virtual fashion. We don’t use any fabric to create garments – instead, we’re constructing a new terrain where digital fashion can operate both now and in the future.

We also provide services for fashion brands and retailers to digitise their clothing. Right now, this focus is more on the retail and marketing spaces, producing digital fashion content and experiences for brands’ online, social and e-commerce channels.

How did you create your DEEP – Faster Fashion collection?

The DEEP collection is a collaboration between fashion design and machine learning. We asked a computer to learn a visual representation of a large dataset of catwalk images taken at Paris Fashion Week in September 2017. We used a technology called a Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) that consists of two parts – one part with images and the other without – to recreate the Fashion Week images without seeing them. So, the GAN is constantly asking, ‘Is this what you’re looking for?’, randomly creating pixels until the computer says, ‘I can’t see any difference between my pictures and the thing that you’re creating.’

In this way we were able to generate entirely new fashion designs, which is quite incredible because the computer simply creates them itself. There’s no one influencing it other than through the images in the dataset. The resulting shapes were so inspiring and because they were like nothing I’d ever seen before, I used them as the basis for a fashion collection. I tried to use as much as possible from what the computer created in combination with my own creative design aesthetics; the shapes, the fabric references and the colour references. The collection – DEEP – is a combination of my own zeitgeist and this algorithm.

DEEP by The Fabricant and Amber Jae Slooten
'As a designer, I’m always looking for new ways to push my design process further, and technology has allowed me to go further than I thought I could.'

Why was it so important to you to integrate AI into the process in a creative capacity?

As a designer, I’m always looking for new ways to push my design process further, and technology has allowed me to go further than I thought I could. I was captivated by how this AI algorithm was creating its own shapes – they are designs I would never have come up with. The moment that we join forces with AI, it updates our own intelligence too. At the moment, AI is being used for a lot of menial tasks in marketing, for example, but I believe it has a lot to offer creatively as well. In the future, we will be able to get much further than we are now by using AI.

It will also help us to be more original. In fashion currently, I feel most people are just making a copy of a copy. Fashion brands copy everything they see and in my opinion there’s little creativity left, except among really exceptional designers. The discussion about where the computer ends and the human begins is just so interesting to me because it goes to the core foundations of what it means to be creative. Would a computer ever be able to be as creative as we are? Or should we even compare ourselves to computers? Is it a completely new understanding of what creativity is? I’m very keen to explore these aspects.

 

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