AI - The key to sustainable fashion?
Technology has infiltrated nearly every aspect of our lives, and the fashion industry is no exception. Since the rise of machine learning and big data, fast fashion companies have weaponized AI to get ahead of their competitors. Algorithms have been developed that scan catwalk shows and social media posts alike to predict the latest trends and assist shops in designing fashionable ranges dynamically.
But aside from producing vast profits, AI could also be utilised by the fashion industry to promote environmental sustainability in every step of the supply chain. The following “green” machine learning solutions have been deployed:
AI’s trend-predicting capabilities can be used for good. Companies can use machine learning to model customer demand, and predict how many of certain items will be sold during different seasons. This helps them to design desirable clothing and order the perfect amount of garments for their stores, thus preventing overstocking and the disposal of unsold pieces.
To source new, sustainable fabrics, many companies have employed software that can model yarn patterns digitally. It is possible to test the elasticity, hardiness and even texture of these digital models. This eliminates the need to waste metres of real fabric on the testing process, as well as speeding up the discovery of these more environmentally sustainable fabrics.
Want to quickly find fashionable pieces that you love, and will continue wearing for many years to come? Fashion companies like Thread have begun to utilize AI to recommend garments to customers depending on their personal style and body type. The hope is that with a more personalised selection of clothes to view, you are more likely to find pieces that you absolutely love and want to keep wearing long into the future. The company also utilises algorithms to recommend sustainable clothing brands that align with your style.
Last year, a quarter of all clothes bought online were returned, often due to a poor fit. This increases the carbon footprint of the industry as clothes are shuttled back and forth from our homes to warehouses, often by polluting lorries or boats. Online fashion stores like ASOS now employ algorithms that allow you to find your perfect size depending on your measurements. These new size-prediction algorithms could help to let customers order their perfect fit the first time, preventing the need to make a return.
Lawrie, E. (2021). 'I’ll buy five items and only keep one of them'. BBC News. Access here
Heuritech (2020). TREND FORECASTING: FASHION’S WAY FORWARD. Access here
Rao, S. (2020). Using AI for Sustainable Fast Fashion. TCS. Access here