Our first installment of the HumAIn project was born out of the seasonal trend and creative direction workshop I do with SOORTY in Karachi. At that point, AI-generated fashion design was the content, a trend just exploding into people's awareness. I had cobbled together a few AI-generated denim examples for illustration purposes, but it was immediately clear that we had to do more with this. We were on a short timeline, so it was a case of quickly creating a couple of interesting looks that SOORTY could make up IRL, ready in time for Amsterdam. Much of the more experimental video content we showed there was created after the physical looks were already selected.
HumAIn Part 1 was something of a proof of concept, but for simplicity's sake we only used rinse-washed denim. For Part 2 we wanted to up the ante; more garments, more design variations, and most of all some really interesting washes. SOORTY have this amazing laundry set up and we were keen to test it with what the AI would throw at it. And we wanted a third party with a good eye for denim. That is where DenimDudes came in.
Working with DenimDudes on HumAIn Part 2 has been great. Amy and Shannon are so knowledgeable and have such a good understanding of the denim market. Having their opinion to bounce off of has been key for road-testing our AI design setup and improving the results. It also quickly surfaced some challenges in areas where the AI is harder to control. In that sense, DenimDudes have been assuming the role of a brand or a client one might be working with, which brought us much closer to a real-world scenario. Needless to say, having the two on board made the process a lot more fun, too.
Putting on my own forecasting hat for a minute, and thinking back to January when we started this project, we have seen our perception of generative AI shift from it being trend content itself, to it becoming a powerful tool in the design workflow for visualising trend information and transmuting them into unique designs. I guess I'll call that a milestone.
Today's generative AI models are capable of amazing feats, but without human input there cannot be any meaningful output. The AI essentially has to be guided by human creativity. Although, in light of the visualisation powers of tools like Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, we might have to refine our traditional understanding of the term creativity somewhat. I think "creative guidance" is the key term here. Fluid concepts, such as ideas, storytelling, imagination, culture and taste—these are active choices that will always come from us humans.
AI has its flaws, but it never runs out of (sometimes wild) suggestions, or leaves you with the proverbial empty page. And it can be surprising good at handling curve balls, such as having to create outfits for the DenimDudes pets Dude and Jaxx. With AI, in most of such cases, you can fairly quickly come back and say "Well, how about this?"