Generative AI and the Future of Work in Fashion

Generative AI has been causing concerns about job obsolescence and the replacement of human professionals across various industries. However, a recent report from McKinsey & Company suggests that while some job losses may occur, even the occupational categories most exposed to generative AI could continue to add jobs through 2030. This indicates that even clerical jobs that are likely to be impacted by AI will still have a place in the workforce.

Generative AI, in its early stages, relies on human support. The “human-in-the-loop model” combines AI capabilities with human oversight, feedback, and ensuring correct operation. The human touch is essential in fashion, an industry centered on how people look and feel. However, fashion cannot ignore the potential for efficiencies, cost-cutting, and automation offered by generative AI. Companies like Stitchfix have successfully blended AI algorithms, machine learning, and stylist insight to provide personalized shopping experiences.

Human intervention is crucial to ensure a positive customer experience and to prevent unsavory outcomes that can arise when generative AI is left on its own. Safety mechanisms need to be in place to avoid disturbing experiences. Fashion companies will require subject matter experts, reviewers, assistants, and data scientists with a fashion perspective to ensure responsible and unbiased AI development and deployment.

In addition to these roles, new positions such as “AI fashion designer” may emerge, particularly as initiatives like AI Fashion Week gain attention. However, legal implications related to intellectual property rights need to be addressed. AI systems need training with existing images, videos, and information, leading to concerns about copyright infringement. Companies may need to hire AI ethics officers and specialists to navigate these issues and provide guidance to fashion houses and designers.

Despite the complexities surrounding IP and copyright, the fashion industry should not shy away from adopting AI. Developing internal policies, training programs, licensing agreements, and building trust will be crucial for successful AI implementation. As the adoption of AI in fashion continues to grow, new job opportunities will emerge. The industry needs to embrace this wave of innovation to stay competitive and avoid being left behind.

Source: McKinsey & Company, AI-powered marketing tool supporting climate action (Unitmode), Business of Fashion.