article by Jelena Tašić Pizzolato– Head of Strategic Marketing at Loomish SA, shared from Linkedin
What can AI do for Fashion today? Introducing top 16 AI FashionTech startups of the moment
Here are the 2019 insights into the AI FashionTech arena, together with a list of 16 European B2B startups that are shaping the field.
Earlier this year, I spent several months scouting and engaging with startups specialised in AI for Fashion worldwide. Part of it was for my job, part of it was out of my sheer personal fascination with the topic.
“Why are there so few concrete examples of how AI can be applied to Fashion? Why do big AI players keep talking about medical diagnostics while trying to sell us AI?” – that was a comment of one Fashion executive I used to collaborate with back in 2017.
Fast forward to present: just a couple of years down the line, the market has evolved, the Fashion industry has grown more comfortable with technology, while geeks and fashionistas have been joining forces in an attempt to figure out how AI could boost their bottomline, if not even bring the much-needed improvements into the Fashion value chain.
Still – for most of us in business who are without a technical training in Machine Learning or Data Science, it is quite difficult to determine who is really using AI and who is not, and how it could be relevant to us in the first place.
“By far, the greatest danger of Artificial Intelligence is that people conclude too early that they understand it.” — Eliezer Yudkowsky, Machine Intelligence Research Institute, Berkeley, California.
This review does not pretend to be a complete registry of all the FashionTech startups active today, but a good starting point for anyone curious about possible applications of AI in Fashion.
The bloom & blur: AI FashionTech landscape today
The AI FashionTech ecosystem is at a relatively early stage. Let’s have a look at the context:
- Undoubtedly, AI is in vogue: brands are curious, startups are on it, VC investors have their wallets out, while big tech giants are arguably the only ones reaping some real benefits from it at the moment.
- There is a lot of hype around the topic, which might have lead to the misconception that AI startups are making loads of money and that AI has this magical power to make an immediate difference to a brand/retailer’s margin.
- It is essential to distinguish startups who ride on the hype wave by marketing themselves as AI, from those who actually have a genuine AI technology at the heart of their business model.
- As for the market demand, Fashion brands and retailers are intrigued. Yet, more often than not, they do not have the in-house resources to understand, evaluate, integrate or manage AI projects thoroughly.
- The only ones so far that have cracked the ROI of AI are the tech giants: Amazon, Google, IBM, Facebook and Netflix. They put AI at the centre of their core business (think Amazon recommendation engine), they are able to attract and pay for top talent, and they have engineered a virtuous data cycle for themselves: gather loads of data – improve the algorithm, i.e. service – get more users – gather even more data – repeat. This has yet to happen in Fashion, as well as in most of the other industries, for that matter.
FashionTech AI is all one big testing field, and a messy one too.
So, how did I come across some of the coolest AI FashionTech startups of the moment?
As part of my job in early 2019 I managed the Fashion Innovation Award, an international startup scouting project focused on AI for Fashion. It was through that initiative that I got to know dozens of innovative startups working in AI FashionTech.
At the outset, I did quite a bit of research, including digging into Crunchbase, following a few AI/machine learning experts here and there, travelling and talking to my contacts on both sides of the Fashion-Tech spectrum, reading, reading and reading. These are all quite valuable resources for anyone trying to make sense reading through the AI buzz.
In this process, I also had the privilege to work with professors from one of the world’s Top 5 Universities for AI, world leaders in deep learning (the creator of the Deep Mind studied here!): the Swiss IDSIA Institute.
The other, equally important part of the puzzle was my tight collaboration with the Award jury panel, comprised of leading Fashion executives, investors and sponsors including Google, Accenture Interactive and Bally.
Below is a list of 16 AI FashionTech startups that are working towards reshaping the industry. It is by no means an exhaustive one: it derives from a personal experience, as I deliberately only singled out startups:
- of European origin,
- that I have personally been in contact with mostly (but not exclusively) through Loomish’s Fashion Innovation Award,
- whose AI component has been validated by a data scientist, and
- who are B2B solutions with concrete user cases for the Fashion industry.
16 AI FashionTech startups to watch in 2019
*in alphabetical order
SEE THE FULL TEXT HERE
ELSE CORP, Milan, Italy
In short: Else is a Virtual Retail company that enables mass customization, virtual fitting and made-to-order.
In their own words: ELSE Corp offers technological solutions for Virtual Retail and Cloud Manufacturing to fashion brands, retailers, manufacturers and designers.
It is an innovative concept that leverages 3D technologies, industry 4.0 and artificial intelligence to enable businesses to deliver unique, futuristic and luxurious experiences, perfect fit products and more sustainable production processes, while empowering talent and creativity.
ELSE designed and developed a Cloud SaaS platform that puts together the front-end retail processes such as product personalisation and virtual 3D commerce of exclusive, personalised, possibly made to measure products, with the cloud-based back-end processes like mass customisation, virtual fitting and order generation for smart hybrid manufacturing.
Recent buzz: ELSE Corp‘s CEO, Andrey Golub, has been recognized an IBMChampion for 2019.
SEE THE FULL TEXT HERE