AI Fashion Week competition debuts in NYC

Mia Euceda, Arts & Culture Editor

Jellyfish-shaped haircuts. Shimmering Afro-futurist capes and gowns. Monochrome tracksuits with baroque architecture patterns.

These were some of the looks presented at the first artificial intelligence fashion week in New York City on April 20 and April 21.

The two showings occurred at Spring Studios in SoHo, the same venue that hosts New York Fashion Week.

Inside the venue were 24 screens that displayed around 50 AI-generated runway collections. Some images depicted models strutting down a traditional catwalk, while others showed models walking down pastel-colored Mediterranean villages and bright red desert landscapes reminiscent of the planet Mars.

Maison Meta is the creative studio behind AI Fashion Week, a competition that invites designers to use AI programs to create a ready-to-wear fashion show designs complete with runway images, backstage scenes and street-style snapshots.

Cyril Foiret, Maison Meta’s founder, saw the competition as a way to bridge the gap between physical and digital creativity. He hopes the competition will provide an accessible platform for designers to present and plan out a fashion show without the usual costs.

“We really want to give the opportunity to anyone who is using these tools to maybe become a future big fashion designer,” Foiret said in an interview with the New York Post.

The creative studio received over 400 submissions from more than 200 designers who used text-to-image AI programs, such as Midjourney and Stable Diffusion, to generate otherworldly images of ready-to-wear collections.

Not everyone who entered the competition is in the fashion world. Dmitrii Rykunov, a management consultant, read clothing construction books to get an idea of how to describe the designs he wanted to generate.

“It’s quite exciting,” Sinead Bovell, a fashion model, said in an interview with NBC News. “The purpose of fashion is to really push the frontier of design and creativity forward. And that’s exactly what we’re seeing when we see designs in a computer or these AI generated imagery.”

The competition consisted of two voting rounds. The first round was online and open to the public from April 20 to April 21.

The 10 finalists who make it to the second round will be judged by a panel consisting of industry figures such as makeup mogul Pat McGrath and Vogue Japan’s Head of Editorial Content Tiffany Godoy. The judges will pick three winners on May 22, and the winners will have their collections turned into real garments, which will be manufactured and sold by the fashion retailer Revolve.

“It’s not like the computer is designing and replacing jobs,” Revolve CEO Michael Mente said in an interview with Vogue Business. “It’s a different type of creator that’s using different types of technologies to create different types of outputs that can be produced physically. It’s a fresh perspective.”

While AI fashion may seem like a futuristic, science fiction idea, some companies are currently experimenting with the technology to advertise clothes.

Last month, Levis Strauss and Co. announced a partnership with digital fashion studio and a plan to create AI generated models “of every body type, age, size and skin tone” to showcase their clothing.

But the company received backlash on Twitter, with some users calling the endeavor “lazy” and depriving non-white models of opportunities.

As AI continues to develop and advance, it is expected to get tangled with many niches and sectors, including fashion.