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Aug 30, 2023

AI Fashion Week is here, and so are our questions: fad or future?

Now that September is just around the corner and as physical fashion weeks are approaching, we have some questions about the future of our industry – and this, of course, concerns fashion houses’ hotly debated digital transformation. Does a traditional fashion week still make sense? What happens when an AI Fashion Week has already been tried and tested? Will AI replace fashion weeks as we know them?

Let’s take a step back. In April, the Internet was gently and briefly shaken by the first artificially generated Fashion Week. It took place in the digital space and at Soho’s Spring Studios in New York to promote emerging AI fashion designers working with the still-nascent technology and their AI-generated collections.

The catwalk was embedded into 24 digital monitors that broadcasted non-existent clothes on avatar models, with prompts designed by more than 350 contestants. Three of them won, despite their collections being slightly beyond the rules. And maybe this is the only way to succeed when using a hybrid tool, like a human brain powered with artificial intelligence – or vice versa; it’s tricky to say what is leading who.


From the idea of a visionary pro player

The event seemed to be at the same time a ‘riding the hype’ manoeuvre to generate some buzz, a PR stunt and an experiment to showcase the vast possibilities of Generative AI to a wider audience. 

The owner of the idea is Cyril Foiret, founder of digital publication Trendland, a “website for our aesthetically inclined Internet age.” He is also the founder and creative director of Maison Meta, an AI creative studio based in New York City that uses artificial intelligence to push creative boundaries. 

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Un post condiviso da Maison Meta (@maison.meta)

“We believe that AI has the power to revolutionize the way businesses interact with their customers, and we are dedicated to helping our clients tap into that potential,” states the “Our goal” section of the Maison Meta website.

With clients such as Moncler, H&M, Pangaia and Google, they are experimenting (or teasing) big brands like Chanel and Prada with Test campaigns, challenged to recreate existing advertising campaigns with generative AI while keeping the brand’s DNA.


Big fashion groups are scouting for AI talents

AI Fashion Week was backed by The Revolve Group, a fashion retailer focused on lifestyle trends and luxury brands that are relevant for GenZ and Millennials that acts as an incubator for fashion designers with strong AI skills.

With a focus on data-driven merchandising, the group launched over 1,500 new styles per week on average on the digital market in 2022. It’s no surprise that with this kind of pace, the corporation is actively seeking new talent and exploring creative opportunities in AI.

The Internet is now flooded with AI-generated fashion junk from print-on-demand factories and dropshipping services. Despite generative AI being a recent technology in the hands of fashion designers, it can waste its creative potential when used by cheap fast fashion factories; still, it has a huge potential to spread in the luxury fashion market if managed by creative talents.


How exactly can an AI fashion contest unleash human creativity?

According to the FAQ section of the AI Fashion Week contest website contestants have “carte blanche on creativity” as long as they create ready-to-wear (not haute couture) as the competition aims to facilitate the reproduction and sale of the collections. And it is important to consider fashion trends.

The #aifw23 winners took great liberty in interpreting the rules and were free to create whatever they desired, taming the AI beast into unpredictable and spectacular designs.


And the winners are… (spectacularly breaking the rules) 

28-year-old José Sobral from Lisbon is the contest winner, who used Midjourney and Stable Diffusion to create his Paatif collection. He crafted a perfect prompting to recreate the glossy, shimmering feel of transparent plastic raincoats. From a trained AI eye perspective, there are some flaws, although they were nearly impossible to overcome when the visuals were created: the sneakers are way too similar to iconic Nike and Adidas styles like Silver and Gazelle. 

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Un post condiviso da Ai Fashion Week (

Matilde Mariano, also from Lisbon, came second in the challenge with a spring collection full of pastel colours, oversized flowers on silk gowns and fluid genderless blazers. Effortless to wear and very easy to replicate in real life, with authentic materials, the collection is so lifelike that it’s almost impossible to tell it apart from a real one. Also, the picture’s setting in a lookalike Jardin des Tuileries in Paris is very credible, but she used mixed techniques: Midhourney (that is, AI) and Photoshop, allowing her to control flaws and correct imperfections in the visuals.

American 39-year-old digital artist Opé StyleStar came in third place with an ethereal and romantic collection, maybe with too many nods to Alexander McQueen’s style, Paco Rabanne’s metal dresses, Issey Miyake’s pleated fabric, or Jean Paul Gaultier’s corsets on the catwalk, with AI-generated versions of Rihanna and Anna Wintour sitting in the front row. While the collection was very haute couture and impressive, it may not be easy to recreate in real life, and some have questioned whether it violated the rules. 


The real AI challenge? Avoiding rip-offs

Derivative results and unintentional copycats are the main challenges with AI when trying to create something new using a machine trained and fed with existing objects and designs. Also, a Burberry-like pattern is to expect when using keywords like “trench” or “raincoats” in a Midjourney prompt. 

However, the result is extraordinary, especially considering that most of the collections were created with the Midjourney Version 4, which has limited capabilities in producing photorealistic images. However, this limitation has been overcome in the later versions.


In answer to a tough question: will AI replace fashion weeks?

AI Fashion Week will not replace fashion weeks, as long as it’s a contest and has little to do with fashion weeks. Many fashion designers are already experimenting with generative AI, more privately than under the public eye, as there is a stigma around delegating creativity to a machine.

One day will come when creative professionals and AI machines will live together in peace or at least work together in harmony. For the time being, they will grapple with each other to establish a sustainable balance. The market will determine its worth and set the rules for selling and buying AI-generated fashion. Experts probably will advise how to do it ethically. Ultimately, customers will now and forever decide what’s cool and what’s lame, what’s in and what’s out of style.



Gaia Giordani
Generative AI explorer and New Media Communication expert