These Designs Are Brought to You by AI

— February 14, 2017

When we think of artificial intelligence (AI), usually images of human-like robots and computer brains are what come to mind. However, AI is in fact making its way from science fiction to the catwalk and the everyday fashions of the younger generations.

This is exactly what Qzone, one of China's largest online social network platforms owned by Tencent, machine learning-focused and Tencent-owned AI research lab YouTu Lab, and Vipshop Holdings Limited, China's top online discount retailer for brands, have joined hands to accomplish. The three platforms have produced a new AI-powered report that reveals the fashion preferences of China's "post-95" generation in terms of most popular colors, fabrics and patterns and inspired a new collection by famous Chinese designer Chi Zhang, named designer of the year by Esquire China, to be launched at New York Fashion Week 2017.

This is the first time that AI technology has been leveraged to identify fashion trends to guide the design of a major new collection for presentation at New York Fashion Week.

By applying facial recognition technology to big data aggregated on Tencent's Qzone platform, YouTu Lab's algorithm identified the ages of "post-95" users accurately within three years. In order to analyze fashion preferences, the AI-powered technology was able to distinguish users' clothing from a multitude of varied backgrounds with 95 percent accuracy.    

When choosing which clothes to buy, China's post-95 generation has a clear preference for "light" black (RGB code 22, 20, 24), which they most often choose to match with red, yellow and blue, according to the findings of "The AI + Fashion: Color Trends Report of China's Post 95s." Other popular preferences include specific shades of white (RGB code 237,236,237) and grey (RGB code 51, 46, 51) with cotton, wool and leather ranking as the top fabrics. Young consumers also showed a strong preference for patterns, such as flowers, graffiti and letters.

"This cooperation with Vipshop and Chi Zhang has been a fantastic experiment in bringing AI into the world of fashion, and we hope to help designers create inspiring new fashions that capture emerging trends," said Ross Liang, corporate vice president of Tencent and head of YouTu Lab. "Powered by the big data resources of Qzone's massive image database, YouTu Lab's image recognition capability is rapidly becoming even more advanced and is capturing imaginations through its wide range of applications."

"This cooperation represents a significant innovation connecting sales, big data and AI to bridge the e-commerce, technology and fashion industries," said Vipshop senior director Feifei Chen. "By bringing to light what young people in China like to wear, we hope our work can serve as an inspiration to the fashion industry and lead to even more fashion options for Chinese consumers.

"Vip.com believes that online retailing is entering the C2F (Consumer-to-Fashion) era where consumers define fashion trends," said Chen continued. "This partnership ...not only provides more inspiration and possibilities for artistic fashion design, but also allows consumers to get the styles they want at very reasonable prices through Vip.com."

"The post-95 generation is our future, that's why we called this fashion show 'The Present & The Future'," said Zhang. "Inspired by the findings of the report, my new collection brings together many of the current trends in Chinese fashion. I'm delighted to have the opportunity to bring the unique fashion sense of China's youth to the global fashion stage."

The fall and winter designs developed through the three-party cooperation and introduced at New York Fashion Week will be available online exclusively through Vipshop from the fall of 2017. With a starting price point of just RMB95 ($13), consumers will be able to own the most exciting new Chi Zhang collection straight from New York.

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