The first-ever AI Fashion Week took place last week, organized by Cyril Foiret, the founder of Maison Meta. More than just a fashion show, the event was a unique competition for tech-savvy fashion creatives. Over 350 submissions were submitted from designers vying for a chance to get their digitally designed collections produced IRL by Revolve. Held at Spring Studios in New York, over 1,000 people were in attendance.
Source: Yahoo! Sports
The show itself was viewed on 24 high-tech screens, where guests viewed AI generated photos of models "walking" the runway in contestants' entries. Scenery ranged from traditional catwalks to dreamy floral fields, all artificially created. Real human designers are at the helm of each submission, but the implementation of AI into the fashion industry has drawn criticism for potentially taking away jobs from people. However, the minds behind the event view this merge differently.
According to Revolve CEO Michael Mente, "It's not like the computer is designing and replacing jobs. It's a different type of creator that's using different types of technologies to create different types of outputs that can be produced physically. It's a fresh perspective."
AI Fashion Week may be a great opportunity for budding designers to explore the boundaries of technology and creativity, but very few could see outside of the beauty standard box in regard to their models. According to the rules of the contest, designers had full creative freedom for the appearance of their models. With the possibilities literally endless, many still chose to opt for thin, white women.
This problem isn't unique to just AI Fashion Week. Other brands have begun to employ AI models in the name of fostering diversity in the industry instead of, you know, hiring more diverse models. Levi's has come under fire for this practice, claiming the measure is to cut costs alongside showing more inclusivity on their website. Outside factors aside, AI Fashion Week gave designers the chance to push the boundaries of dated beauty standards for models, and few rose to the challenge.
However, one contestant did. Rachel Koukal's entry, titled "Soft Apocalypse," specifically focused on creating a size-inclusive collection. Her collection combines softer feminine aesthetics with dystopian motifs that have been prevalent in other runway shows.
Koukal said in an interview with Yahoo, "'This is great! I can imagine any type of body I want,’ so I decided I’m going to create a collection that’s size inclusive and body-type inclusive.”
Source: Yahoo! Sports
The winners of AI Fashion Week will be announced in May following public voting and input from a judging panel. We can't wait to see how these digitally designed creations will translate into real-life clothing, but we're disappointed in the overt lack of diversity in models. Creativity in clothing is beautifully showcased here, but with endless possibilities of who's wearing the clothes, AI designers need to step it up.