Technology is Making our Fashion Dreams and Imagination Come to Life

February 24, 2021 | Carrie

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Fashion is a form of art that can express one’s emotions, culture and history. Making clothes incorporates aspects of creativity and attention to detail. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are being used to augment the creativity of artists and designers within the fashion industry. From generating outfits, to pattern recognition of textiles, technology helps to turn a fashion designer’s imagination into a reality.

Iris van Herpen 3D
"Iris van Herpen 3D" by wim hoppenbrouwers. Used on a CC license.


History of Fashion and Technology

Technology was not always embraced by fashion designers. The term "Luddite" originates from a group of generational artisans that handmade clothes. These artisans were generational weavers and textile workers that were against using machines. Machines worked faster, produced larger quantities and were cheaper than artisans. As a result of a loss in clients, the Luddites rebelled by destroying machines. In modern day society, machines are the primary way of mass producing clothes.


Modern day Fashion and Technology

Fast forward to British fashion designer, Alexander McQueen's spring 2010 collection, Plato's Atlantis. Plato's Atlantis was about humanity escaping to Atlantis after destroying the natural environment. McQueen was able to recreate the natural world in his garments with digital printing technology. In the Encyclopedia of Collections: Plato's Atlantis by the Museum of Savage Beauty, McQueen's garments were described as:
"Camouflage prints of roses, and jacquards depicting moths in green and brown tones, referenced life above the sea; amphibious snake prints suggested a transition to water; and designs in blues and purples incorporated images of ocean creatures, such as stringrays and jellyfish."

As printing technology advances, designers will be able to enhance colors, textiles and details in their garments. 

Alexander McQueen
"Alexander McQueen Spring 2010.jpg" by Michelle Ng. Used on a CC license.


Alexander McQueen Dress
"Alexander McQueen dress" by Museum at FIT. Used on a CC license.


As we can see, the intricate details and color in these garments are so captivating!

Another fashion designer that uses technology in their creations is Iris Van Herpen. Herpen's signature design style utilizes 3D printing and other technologies. 

Iris Van Herpen
"Iris van Herpen Transforming Fashion" by Cynthia Smoot. Used on a CC license.


Artificial Intelligence and Generating Outfits

As our society becomes more technologically advanced, the fashion industry is also being directly impacted. AI is about getting the computer to perform tasks on their own. Machine Learning (ML) focuses on getting the computer to optimize processes. Computers can be trained to recognize faces in an image, categorize data and even recreate paintings with AI and ML. Artificial intelligence is now being used in the fashion industry as a tool for designers to generate outfits. Robbie Barrat is a generative artist who uses AI and ML to reconstruct Balenciaga outfits. This requires training the computer by curating input and output data on a network. Networks are a set of algorithms that recognize patterns. Eventually the computer will become smart enough to create its own Balenciaga aesthetic outfits. 


Artificial Intelligence and Textiles

AI is being used in the textile industry to scan for defects in fabrics and color check. These two tasks are strenuous and often inaccurate due to human error. With AI, the efficiency of manufacturing processes in textiles is being improved. Cognex Corp. has created a software that detects patterns in fabrics. Weaving, knitting, braiding and other patterns are examples of what this software can detect. This software utilizes computer vision to identify the defects. This requires training images of different weaving patterns, yarn properties and colours. Once the software knows the correct patterns and colors, it can scan for the mismatches using image processing. With the help of AI, textiles can accurately project the designer’s creations during manufacturing.


Artificial Intelligence and Trend Forecasting/ Apparel Supply Chain

Trend forecasting is predicting fashion trends. This can include trends related to colours, fabrics, silhouettes, patterns and clothing. With AI, trends can be predicted through finding popular styles on the market from social media, in music videos and movies. This helps designers create their collections based on popular trends. AI is also being used within the supply chain and apparel manufacturing, to find the most efficient solutions in decision making.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning and computer vision are new forms of technology that can be used to bring designers imagination to reality.


Related Library Resources

If you're interested in learning more about how Artificial Intelligence is being used by the fashion industry, the Toronto Public Library has a number of resources to get you started!


Courses from

Online tutorials that you can take at your own pace. Create an account to track your progress. Learn more about
To follow the links below to these courses and pathways, you will be asked to sign in with your library card. Course descriptions are all from

Artificial Intelligence Foundations: Thinking Machines

“This course will introduce you to some of the key concepts behind artificial intelligence, including the differences between "strong" and "weak" AI. You'll see how AI has created questions around what it means to be intelligent and how much trust we should put in machines.”

Artificial Intelligence Foundations: Machine Learning

In this course, we review the definition and types of machine learning: supervised, unsupervised, and reinforcement. Then you can see how to use popular algorithms such as decision trees, clustering, and regression analysis to see patterns in your massive data sets. Finally, you can learn about some of the pitfalls when starting out with machine learning. Learning Pathways

Industry experts teach you the knowledge and skills to start your career. Learning Paths are curated collections of content regarding a larger topic, such as web design. Descriptions are all from

Master the fundamentals of AI and Machine Learning

"Do you know the difference between AI and machine learning? Do you know how they affect you, your career path, and the world around us? After taking the courses in this learning path, you'll have a mastery of the concepts and future directions of technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. You'll be able to make more informed decisions and contributions in your work environment."

Advance Your Skills in AI and Machine Learning

"There's a lot to learn and to stay on top of in the rapidly expanding universe of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Use the range of courses in this learning path to augment your skills related to AI, ML, and data science by reviewing data analysis tasks and exploring top platforms."

Become a Machine Learning Specialist

"Are you ready to take a deeper dive into mastering the concepts and techniques involved in machine learning? This learning path shows how machine learning algorithms work and how to design them yourself."


Book Recommendations

Artificial Intelligence for fashion

Artificial Intelligence for Fashion

Optimizing Decision Making in the Apparel Supply Chain using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Optimizing Decision Making in the Apparel Supply Chain Using Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Fashion Design

Fashion Design: a Guide to the Industry and the Creative Process

Practical Fashion Tech

Practical fashion tech: wearable technologies for costuming, cosplay, and everyday


Although closed right now due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Toronto Public Library's Digital Innovation Hubs and Fabrication Studio provide access to technology, software & classes to help support creativity and innovation. Please check the  COVID-19 information page for updates. 


This blog post was written by Alize De Matas, Digital Design Technician.