DemystificationBeyond predictive maintenance, as offered at the early-stage level by CAM (Computer-Aided Manufacturing) suppliers to sewn goods manufacturers with spreaders and cutters such as Bullmer, Lectra/Gerber, Pathfinder, Zünd, and others indeed AI intelligence has already become part of everybody’s daily life: from the navigation system in our cars to finding us the best, fastest or most beautiful route. AI takes into account the current road traffic to search engines: if, for example, Google does not provide the same answer for every user, but instead adapts results to the respective user profile. A best practice example to online shopping platforms making us aware ("Customers who bought, this item also bought ...").
AI – an apparel scenario3rd quarter 2021 global trade publication just-style.com headlined a feature rolling out results for dedicated research by Global Data Plc, today’s owner for the premium online business publication to the fashion industry. One of many aims for the study had been to display indications on where apparel is heading to leverage from what the technology can offer. The outcome from a general point of view: “The apparel industry is seeing an increase in artificial intelligence investment across several key metrics. AI is gaining an increasing presence across multiple sectors, with top companies completing more AI deals, hiring for more roles related to artificial intelligence”.
The London-based data analytics and consulting company’s thematic approach to sector activity seeks to group key company information on hiring, deals, patents, and more by topic to see which companies are best placed to weather the disruptions coming to their industry segment.
Hiring patterns within the apparel sector as a whole are pointing towards an increase in the level of attention being shown to roles related to the development and/or application of artificial intelligence. “There was a monthly average of 7,435 actively advertised-for open AI-related roles within the industry in April this year [remark by NEEDLE’S EYE editor: 2021], up from a monthly average of 5,703 in December 2020”, states the summary of the GlobalData methodical analysis. As a company-related result of the “Just Style" feature – recommended for detailed studying – the following excerpts may be quoted here: “According to GlobalData methodical analyses, LVMH, Nike, Foot Locker are classed as dominant players in AI in the sector, with an additional eight companies classified as leaders.”
From an inter-sectoral perspective, the clear edge in Artificial Intelligence seems to be kept by the U.S. since today’s largest talent pools are evidenced by a survey by LinkedIn from 2018. India accordingly occupies rank #2, with the worldwide second-highest number of AI professionals. Talented workforce playing a key role in technology advancement Europe as a whole certainly facing the challenge to catch up promptly.
Fashion business: Early adoptersAlthough still far from market penetration, the range of the first AI applications extends from buyer behavior and intelligent forecasting for demand on fabric/trims towards truly predictive machine/system maintenance.
Asos and Bohoo, Calvin Klein, H&M, and Jelmoli do it. The North Face, Patagonia, and Puma are on board. Tommy Hilfiger and Zara have jumped on the bandwagon of fashion/retail brands receiving profound support to solve sizing issues.
Collaborating with start-up types of companies like ZyseMe out of Berlin, Germany, a realistic narrowing down of the standard sizes with the expected best fit result becomes possible: It takes only 5-12 questions via their platform to figure out the look she or he adores in the size they need or prefer – as judgment to a good portion follows subjective criteria. No measuring, no body scanning, and no 360° photo shoots. Just smart algorithms plus data, data, data.
AI apparel application at its best?
On closer inspection, one could dispute that artificial intelligence is the exact opposite of algorithmic calculation. An algorithm describing a fixed sequence of defined steps that solve a problem. For example, a programmer implements a CAD program. Artificial intelligence generally refers to machine learning methods that are characterized by the fact that their results are not the result of a previously defined logic, but are "learned" from data. And it is precisely the availability of gigantic and increasingly specific, individual data sets – such as those for instance generated and leveraged by ZyseMe and FitAnalytics that enable the learning processes of machines, the creation of digital twins, and the interweaving of neural networks – to mention but a few technology topics building on AI.
Whatever the outcome of the discussion among scientific sectarians may be, here is the chance to at least reduce sustainable problems such as overproduction, understocking, and returns due to size sampling.