From outfit designing to spotting futuristic fashion trends to being a personal stylist to satisfying consumer experience, AI in the apparel industry will bring cutting-edge revolution and disruption that’s never been seen before.
It is quite impressive and exciting to see how AI has integrated into our lives. Most of us will not even be aware of the fact that they are already using AI in their day-to-day activities. But honestly speaking, with its potential to learn and study a given situation and act accordingly, AI has taken a prominent place in every industry vertical, regardless of the work they do. The transformative role of this cutting-edge technology has enabled enterprises across the world to redefine and reinvent their business processes, allowing automated, optimized, streamlined, and flawless workflow execution, which in turn, leads to operational excellence and financial gains. One such industry that had been dealing with tons of issues, ranging from new design creation in lesser time, manufacturing garments at a sensible cost, and lack of resources to perform activities seamlessly, is the apparel industry. But, thanks to advancements in the incredible technology - AI! AI in the apparel industry will prove to be a game-changer in solving the existing issues, thereby assisting the textile designers, producers, and retailers in improving efficiency at work.
The Traditional Apparel Ecosystem and its Problems
Until now, the main focus of the apparel industry was to take care of only the production process, keeping quality as a low priority. But today, in this hyper-connective, Internet-enabled, technology-powered world, along with quantity, fashion brands have to potentially consider their design standard and garment quality while staying ahead of the fashion trends of today and tomorrow. To top the list, the garment industry also sees an intensified demand for enhanced customer experience and satisfaction. Handling all these labor-intensive tasks is not an easy undertaking, especially when only employees have to take care of them. Manually carrying out these jobs can hinder accuracy, productivity, and efficiency levels drastically. Along with boredom, the likelihood of human errors also increases. All these factors will negatively impact the apparel industry in achieving their business objectives, undoubtedly.
Making fashionable attires swiftly move off the ramp to the consumer market is the aim of every textile company. To accomplish this, brands have to speed up their production process with new, unique, and compelling clothing designs, which means designers and manufacturers have to quicken their pace at work and have shorter deadline periods. Besides, brands are pressurized to fulfill their consumer’s expectation of getting trendy apparels at a low cost. But as the cost of any apparel depends on a lot of things, ranging from working hours spent by designers on it to production cost to transportation cost to reach the retailer warehouses to many more, meeting and fulfilling customer’s cost expectations has become more of a challenge now.
The Impact of AI in the Apparel Industry
The issues and concerns that rest in the traditional apparel ecosystem call for the need to innovate, automate, and reinvent business processes that are involved in the trend spotting, garment design and production, transportation, merchandising, and sales with the help of AI.
Taking into account the fast-changing fashion trends, it goes without saying that anticipating fashion trends is not only tricky but also a time-consuming task. Manually researching the previously popular styles, social media fashion trends, and customer preferences, analysts were expected to spot the upcoming trends. The guesswork done by the professionals may or may not be accurate. Besides the hassles of manual work, spotting fashion trends can also pose cost issues before fashion brands if not forecasted rightly. Instead, if the brands invest in leveraging AI, they can cut down all the problems quickly.
The AI tool, trained with quality and quantity data, will analyze past fashion data, check out the customer demand and preferences, gauge competitor’s moves, and identify the market trends. After processing the data, the AI tool will give accurate details on trendy styles and designs within minutes. With AI, fashion brands can bolster their apparel business by tracking the latest fashion trends in just minutes, which would otherwise take days or even months.
Realizing the potential of AI in design, many tech giants are already making big moves by integrating the technology for their benefit. For instance, a group of professionals in Amazon developed an AI tool that is capable of analyzing and learning the images that are entered, and then generating an altogether new fashion design by itself. Besides, the industry behemoth - Amazon - has developed another AI application that can analyze and process the fed pictures, thereby giving a conclusion on whether a particular style will look trendy or not. Not only Amazon, but there are dozens of other such tech giants who have already embarked on their AI journey, streaming their design creation process completely. IBM, in collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger and The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is using AI to empower designers in boosting the pace of the product development lifecycle.
With customers becoming restless, irritated, and grumpy on not receiving quick assistance or service, fashion retailers are faced with constant pressure to offer what customers want almost instantaneously. Several industry giants have already come up with the newest technology-powered applications that promote enhanced customer experience, one that goes beyond personalized ads, notification alerts on price drops, or chatbot assistance. Using this sophisticated technology, fashion brands strive to put customization at the forefront for customers during their buying journey. There are AI-powered personal stylist apps in the market that allow users to browse clothes online or to click pictures of their clothes. Giving these images as inputs, the app will recommend the best style according to the user's body type, complexion, and preferences while keeping the fashion trends in mind. From providing customers with personalized advertisement notifications to alerting them on price drops to clearing their doubts or queries with chatbots to now being a personal stylist and providing instant outfit suggestions, fashion brands can meet their aim of elevating customer experience with the help of AI. With AI being able to act as both, design assistants for designers and personal stylist for consumers, it is pretty much clear that the impact of the technology is more than what we ever imagined.
The emergence of trend-setting technology, AI, has changed the way businesses carry out their processes. And, the discussion we’ve had, is a proof of the fact that the apparel industry is no exception. With a majority of big fashion brands already tapping into the benefits and applications of AI, it is undeniable that soon the technology will become mainstream in medium-sized companies and startups also. So, for garment companies, who haven't planned to adopt AI yet, the right time to plan and kick-start their digital transformation journey is today. After all, no one would want to be left behind in the digital race, isn’t it?