Does AI belong in design? New York Fashion Week weighs in

Hillary Taymour of Collina Strada

Photo: Nina Westervelt/Getty Images

Wes Gordon of Carolina Herrera

AI absolutely has a place in fashion design. We use technology in our pattern-making; it’s done by drape and then computerised. We’re constantly rendering things quickly to see embroidery placements and mock-ups, things like that. But certainly not to the extent of AI. I’m excited to see the potential it can bring. I’m very romantic and old school about how I approach things, but if history has taught us anything, it’s to not be afraid of newness. And sure there are things to be afraid of — but there are things to be excited about.

Wes Gordon of Carolina Herrera

Wes Gordon

Photo: Nina Westervelt/Getty Images

Olivia Cheng of Dauphinette

I know there are designers who are using AI to help bulk up their collection, but I’m not doing that because I’m hardly able to execute the things I wanted to make without AI. There are so many strange things that I want to do, sartorially speaking. But it is really interesting as a hyper-specific knowledge aggregator; when I was reflecting upon the collection for my show notes, I conversed with [AI chatbot] ChatGPT. I asked it to describe the brand, and it said “whimsical, sustainable and eclectic”, which was exactly what I wanted when I first set out with the company six years ago. I could have gone on Google and read some articles about the brand and drawn those conclusions, but it processes the information so succinctly. It has inherently integrated objectivity.

Siying Qu of Private Policy

Instead of using it to design — because we still very much believe design is a very human way of expressing our emotions — we want to use AI for its knowledge. It’s very rare to talk to an entity that’s so knowledgeable.

I don’t want to use AI to be lazy. I want AI to empower our creativity and push it further and then find new territories. But at the same time, I think it’s also a very slippery slope. It can easily become a tool to be used against a lot of creative communities: only measuring the budget, how much does it cost, instead of really measuring creativity that AI can offer. That’s also why we want to do the collection about AI now, with our young community talking about it, because I think it is a crucial moment to consciously think about this new technology. Before we even had a thought about it, our whole lifestyle can change.

Christian Cowan

I think fighting it is like the CD industry fighting streaming. You’ve got to get with it, otherwise it’s going to get you. It’s also such a creative tool, and it’s something that I’ve been meaning to delve into more, apart from my personal playing around. I’d love to design a capsule collection where I put all the inputs in, and then AI designs it for me, and then I’ve created it. I think it’d be so, so interesting. I love how Grimes has given the rights for people at home to use AI to create remixes of her music. I think that’s amazing. So I think people should work with it. I don’t think people should be so scared. There’s nothing that can really do what a human can; it’s just a tool.

Raul Lopez of Luar

I always say you have to move with the times. I think some people need to leave the Boomer mentality because it’s going to happen – it doesn’t matter what you think. And also I feel like it helps a lot of people and it does speed processes up. I’m not saying no [to using AI]. I’m not opposed to it. I think it’s cool and I feel like we’re moving in that direction with a lot of things — not just in fashion.

Sergio Hudson

I’m definitely open to it. Any help you can get to pull ideas out of your head is needed. When you’re in a career where it’s so creatively driven and you gotta pump out all these creative ideas, it could possibly relieve stress, because sometimes you feel like you’re going to go crazy if you have to come up with one more idea that’s great. My design process is very long and drawn out, and I have to wait for the right moment when I feel that click, like, okay, here it is; this is what it’s supposed to be. If I can get that sooner, I feel like I could do more.

We just did a project with [tech startup] BigThinx, and they did an AI show of my last collection. They built us a show around what we did last season. It was a very interesting process — building the people, building the room, how do they walk, how does the fabric move? It’s very interesting and a little bit scary at the same time because it looks so real.

I’m thinking about how fashion is going to live in the future; I feel like it’s grounded in human beings. They’re still going to love fashion, but how are they going to love it? How are they going to get to it? I’m very interested in all of that stuff. Am I that savvy at it? No, but I’m very open.

Additional reporting by Hilary Milnes and Madeleine Schulz

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