AI Enhances, Doesn’t Replace Fashion Stylists


Calvin Wong developed the first designer-led AI tool, the Interactive Design Assistant for Fashion (AiDA). It uses image recognition technology to go from first sketch to runway show more quickly.

“The designers have their prints, their patterns, their colors, their initial sketches and they upload the images,” Mr. Wong told AFP in London.

“Then our tool can recognize these design elements and make other suggestions for stylists to refine and modify their initial design,” he adds.

AiDA’s strength, according to Calvin Wong, is its ability to present “every possible combination” for a stylist, which is impossible without AI.

Last December, the collections of fourteen stylists developed with this tool were presented in an exhibition in Hong Kong, at the M+ Museum.

Calvin Wong insists that this tool aims to “facilitate inspiration” for stylists and not to “replace their creativity”. “We must cherish the original creativity of the designer,” he says.

Mr. Wong directs the Artificial Intelligence in Design Lab (AidLab), a joint research project of the Royal College of Art (RCA) in the United Kingdom and the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, where he is Professor of Fashion.

– Preserve skills –

RCA deputy director Naren Barfield says the impact of AI on the fashion industry will be “transformational”.

“The impact will be enormous from the idea and design stage through the prototype to manufacturing, distribution and final recycling.”

Personalization is already being used to improve customer experiences through better product recommendations and more efficient searches, helping shoppers find what they want more quickly and easily.

But as technology evolves, so does the range of highly specialized tools.

Calvin Wong’s AiDA tool is just one of the AidLab projects, among others, presented in London during Fashion Week.

There is also the Neo Couture project, which aims to digitally preserve the specialist skills and techniques used by stylists. This tool creates an AI-assisted training system to make it easier to teach sewing skills.

– Keep control –

The future of AI in fashion, however, is not obvious.

Hillary Taymour, who founded New York brand Collina Strada, admitted that she and her team used image generator Midjourney to create their collection shown at New York Fashion Week in early September.

Although Hillary Taymour only used images of past looks from the brand to create her Spring/Summer 2024 collection, legal issues could prevent AI-generated clothing from appearing on the runways.

“I expect designers to raise issues of intellectual property rights,” says Rebecca Lewin, a curator at the Design Museum in London. “It’s going to take a lot of work to get this regulated.”

According to Naren Barfield of the RCA, the issue is indeed delicate, but can be resolved.

If AI “gives companies a competitive advantage, I think they will invest and adopt it quickly,” he said. The only thing currently holding businesses back is the “massive investment” in the necessary infrastructure.

“But once they do, it will save them money,” he added.

As for designers’ fears that computing will replace the human creative process, the key, according to Naren Barfield, is knowing who controls the decision-making.

The question could arise with the use of a so-called “genetic” algorithm, which from a first drawing allows a computer to produce 1,000 other different ones, which would take weeks to draw, he said. he explains.

On the other hand, if the designer remains in control, AI could offer enormous benefits by significantly speeding up the process “without necessarily making the decisions for them,” he added.

This article is originally published on


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