Tommy Hilfiger and IBM team up to harness AI in the creative design process
Tommy Hilfiger has just partnered with IBM and The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Infor Design and Tech Lab for an Artificial Intelligence (AI) pilot project. The project called ‘Reimagine Retail’ will have AI play a role rarely seen before — as the lead in the design creation process.
“The goal was to equip the next generation of retail leaders with new skills, and bring informed inspiration to their designs with the help of AI,” said Avery Baker, Chief Brand Officer, Tommy Hilfiger in a company press release.
Using IBM Research AI tools and a library of Tommy Hilfiger runway and product images, FIT students created a slew of forward-looking designs incorporating patterns, colors and styles entirely generated by AI.
For the brand, it was an experimentation in “how AI can identify upcoming trends faster than industry insiders to enhance the design process”.
Tommy Hilfiger isn’t the only fashion company starting to test the power of AI in enhancing the creative process and driving product development. Online personal shopping service startup Stitch Fix is known to deploy algorithms, as opposed to creative mood boards, to kick-start creative processes and new designs.
In bigger news, Amazon might soon have an army of AI-powered designers on its hands. MIT Technology Review reported last year that a team at Amazon has devised an algorithm that can spot a trend and then very quickly replicate human creativity and design clothes via AI. The technology is still in its nascent stages, but it demonstrates what the e-commerce titan has in store for fashion of the future.
AI and the fashion industry aren’t strange bedfellows.
A slew of luxury brands including Tommy Hilfiger, Burberry, Louis Vuitton and David Yurman have deployed AI-powered chatbots to connect with their customers 24/7, serving their needs from anywhere at any time so they don’t necessarily need to visit a store.
Burberry's foray in the chatbot game started in 2016, when it allowed fans to get a behind-the-scene sneak peek of its newest runway collections. The bot also allowed customers first-dibs access by taking pictures of the looks that they liked and shopping items directly from the fashion show via the app.
AI has been creeping its way into all parts of the fashion value chain, from predictive forecasting to inventory visibility, even pricing capabilities. Last year, the Ermes Group, whose brands portfolio includes Diesel, Debenhams, Forever 21, Tommy Hilfiger, Superdry and several more, announced it would be employing IBM’s AI-based Watson solutions towards driving its dynamic pricing capabilities.
The company stated that this would help ensure that product markdowns find resonance with value-seeking customers while maximizing profits across retail locations.
Ultimately however, nothing could be more significant than AI powering purchase decision through consumer behavior insights.
Amazon's new Amazon Echo Look, a hands-free camera optimized to capture your outfits, that comes out of Amazon's San Francisco research center Lab 126, has been pitched as the first artificially intelligent style assistant. For now, it only gauges your looks, much like a best friend or partner might, but in time is slated to recommend brand new fashion choices based on its insights into customer behavior.
AI has has also been powering digitally disruptive in-store solutions. Macy’s has been testing an in-store shopping assistant powered by artificial intelligence across some of its US stores. Others have followed.
Last April, at the London Design Museum, multi-designer fashion retail platform Farfetch unveiled a demo of a technology platform that it has christened the “Store of the Future”. The platform will support stores with a database that shares information around a customer’s purchase history, giving them insight into customer data history both from online behavior and in-store visits, eventually driving a mega-personalized in-store experience. The Store of the Future platform, currently in beta mode, will eventually launch at the Browns in London and at Thom Browne in New York.
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