At the e-P Summit trade show, the fashion world is enthusiastic about AI and its plethora of uses

Still hesitant a year ago, the luxury and fashion industry is now embracing artificial intelligence without holding back. The phenomenon has taken the sector by storm and is beginning to have a tangible impact at all levels, whether in terms of organisation, logistics, sales, design, communication and so on. This was the conclusion reached by a number of luxury industry players at the e-P Summit conference on fashion and tech, organised on April 9 and 10 in Florence by Italian trade fair organiser Pitti Immagine.

AI is finding its place in the luxury indusutry – ph DM

“AI is neither a sector nor a tool, it’s a context. It’s a tidal wave that has arrived on everything. It has already entered our lives, marking a new beginning,” says Marco Formento, Global Director of Innovation at Dolce & Gabbana, pointing out that the major tech groups, from Google to Apple, “are all already restructuring and redesigning their business organisation and their offering in line with AI”.

Massimo Mazza, Roberto Cavalli‘s global marketing director, uses the word tsunami to describe the effects of AI on design, currently being tested at the luxury house, which is working on a capsule collection project linked to its archives. “The creative teams have been stunned by the initial results,” notes the manager, who is also favourably impressed by the application of AI technology in other sectors, such as the production of catalogues for e-commerce.

Substantial savings

“By starting with a 2D image of a part, we can reproduce it on a 3D mannequin. This allows us to create virtual mannequins exclusively for our brand, personalising them according to the countries we are targeting and the morphologies we want to highlight. We can create content and all kinds of campaigns without having to worry about image rights,” he points out. “At the moment, AI is enabling us to save 40% compared with the traditional budget for this type of project. But beyond the money issues, this technology offers us many more possibilities and enriches the shopping experience.”
“AI can bring real added value, even to highly technical catalogues,” adds Alessandro Pacetti, Global Director of Consumer Sales at the shoe manufacturer Vibram. “For example, when it comes to our insole catalogues, this translates into more experiential content, with a contribution in terms of emotion, creativity and storytelling,” he believes. Like many other brands, Vibram has also integrated AI into its CRM and customer experience. “From the use of multilingual content to order management and the constant upgrading of data, AI has become a service that offers us countless possibilities in terms of digital operations,” he sums up.

Pinko used AI – ph DM

The level of precision and acceleration of processes has been further enhanced in recent months, resulting in real advances for brands, which are stepping up their partnerships with start-ups and tech companies.

Pinko, for example, has teamed up with Data Life, a data specialist, which has helped it to develop a much more refined predictive tool and improve its replenishment policy. “We have gone into greater depth in data analysis, taking into account new elements thanks to AI, and increasing the value of products in stock,” explains Alessandra Decaneto, head of data science & data analyst at the Italian luxury ready-to-wear label.

Data interpretation

The technology has proved particularly effective for Pinko’s weekly shop sales reports, not only managing all the data, but also interpreting it, giving the brand’s employees the opportunity to interact directly with the AI. “This report highlights successful products and sales trends, or points out an item that has not performed as expected in a particular shop. We have also created a sales assistant. The system responds very quickly and accurately, and can generate on demand a dedicated restocking proposal for a given shop,” explains DataLife’s CEO, Iacopo Cricelli.
“Before, this work was carried out through the experience of the sales assistant,” says Alessandra Decaneto, reminding us of the importance, in this process of organisational change, of “bringing people on board.” “They must remain at the centre. AI is there to stimulate business, not to replace them.” But he also acknowledges that “the technology is generating significant savings in terms of operational efficiency.”
Another notable advance on the technology front is its ease of use. “You don’t need to know how to use dashboards like you used to, everything is made easier so that all the company’s users can understand and interact with the data. It’s an unprecedented tool,” concludes Pinko’s data specialist.

The investments of various governments – ph DM

This ease of use of the system, which is helping to make AI increasingly accessible, is a feature of many of the latest-generation start-ups, which are aimed primarily at SMEs that do not have the same resources as the big luxury houses. Like Indigo.ai. This platform, founded in 2016, enables brands to create their own conversational agents and virtual assistants based on generative AI. The company has around a hundred customers and is one of eight start-ups selected by e-P Summit for its Innovation Award.
“Our project brings AI within reach. Our customers choose us because their marketing team can use this tool directly, customising it according to the requirements of the brand, without needing to be data scientists. Not all SMEs have the resources or the time to devote a team to developing this type of tool,” notes Dario Cereo, who works in marketing and sales at Indigo.ai.
Another initiative is Brandplane, a B2B platform launched in February 2023 by Marta Basso and Emanuele Bartolesi, which facilitates the creation of marketing strategies and content. It makes available to each client, via an application, a dedicated AI that is pre-trained and designed to improve as it is used. Fed by each company according to its own values, objectives and other criteria, it generates personalised content, while preventing the company’s data from being released into the public domain.
“It has been estimated that marketing teams spend almost 40 hours a week creating content, which could perfectly well be produced by the machine”, say the entrepreneurs, explaining that they have tried to make AI “accessible to everyone, without targeting people steeped in technology”. Brandplane employs around ten people. It has a thousand customers, to which should soon be added 25,000 SMEs in the tourism sector via a partnership with the Italian Ministry of Tourism.

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