How artificial intelligence is aiding the fashion industry to manufacture sustainably
Fashion is one of the largest industries globally, with the market valued at over $3trillion. But fashion is also broadly known as one of the most polluting industries on the planet, and with good reason. The apparel industry is responsible for 10% of global carbon emissions whilst using up 1.5 trillion litres of water every year. And the damage doesn’t stop with production, as a typical western family will throw away on average 30kg of clothing each year, 85% of which is not recycled or donated so ends up in landfill. There are many innovative processes in the works to try to reduce this impact on the planet, and one major technology that is disrupting the industry is AI.
Artificial Intelligence can currently be defined as intelligent programmes that are able to complete tasks typically undertaken by people. It is a field of research which includes machine learning, deep learning, natural language processing and visual recognition, among others, so there are many different aspects to AI technology. It’s able to learn more each time it collects new data and following pre-determined algorithms, can collect this data and analyse it.
Overproduction lies at the heart of fashion’s impact on the planet as brands continue to churn out more and more garments, exceeding consumers demand. Overstock of clothing isn’t only bad for business and brand due to profit loss and sales rales, but it is detrimental to the environment. Global textile production has more than doubled in the past 15 years and total greenhouse emissions from production currently stands at 1.2 billion tonnes annually. It is also no longer a secret that many luxury fashion houses routinely burn large amounts of unsold stock in perfect condition, simply to avoid having to put a sales tag on it.
How can AI combat this?
It is thought that AI could reduce current forecasting errors by 50% through its ability to predict consumer buying habits. By extracting and analysing information from large quantities of data, AI can offer insights into possible future trends and their popularity levels. This data can be used in conjunction with creative intuition, ensuring that creative ability is not taken away. AI can be used at different stages of the design and manufacturing process, in logistics to develop intelligent manufacturing. There are many brands already developing AI programmes in an effort to better the industry.
- Heuritech: Heuritech is a solution designed for trend forecasting, offering brands predictive analysis on trends and products. It gains its data through visual recognition technology focussing on social media images.
- The Yes: The Yes app uses newly-minted algorithms to tailor style and shopping preferences to a consumer through a simple ‘yes or no’ answer quiz. Consumers are then provided with recommendations and the technology will further refine its selection based on whether they purchase the suggestions.
Fashion Futures in AI
With more brands turning to AI as a solution, it is estimated that global spending on AI within the fashion industry will reach $7.3billion a year by 2022. The Yes, for example, already works directly with over 150 brands including Prada, Ralph Lauren and Khatie. Overall we would definitely say that AI technology has a great part to play in helping clothing manufacture become more sustainable and we look forward to seeing brands take up this tech and move to a greener future!