Seams Unreal: AI Models, Virtual Vogue , and the Stitch in Time for Fashion’s Future

Chad Dyar
4 min readNov 2, 2023

Last year we started working with sustainable women’s clothing brand Easy Sundays. It’s been a successful partnership so far with one of our products, the Sunday Set, featured in Vogue as an Editors Choice for top products in 2022. We’ve helped out with everything from implementing a third-party logistics provider to placing the brand with value-aligned retailers.

Recently, we were contacted by a model who believed her image was being used without her consent on an e-commerce store that we supply. We took the matter seriously. We are acutely aware of the history of exploitation in the fashion industry, particularly at the aspiring end of the trade.

After conducting due diligence, we found that the complaint came down to a misunderstanding — all the rights were in place in perpetuity, and we were able to resolve the issue. However, this incident got us thinking about the future of image rights in fashion and beyond. If we had not been able to come to a resolution , could we have just swapped out the images with an AI model?

Incidentally, we had been discussing doing some work with AIuta, a tech company specializing in AI image generation for virtual try-on. They showed us a demo they had been working on which can swap AI models in a particular SKU. We realized that we could easily batch-process all images on our site to tweak a model’s look or even change her appearance entirely. All we need are source shots of “someone” wearing the clothes.

Recently, we’ve had international interest from partners about bringing the brand overseas. Can we just adjust all of our images with AI for market-specific looks? Should we market to Korea, Nigeria or Brazil with a simple prompt to the API?.

As of now, small brands like ours can’t afford the commercial use of advanced tech like Aiuta’s. But it’s only a matter of time before costs come down. This raises a critical question: Will hiring a model, photographer, and studio still be commercially justifiable for startup brands?

So, as we come to the end of the global fashion week cycle and the beginning of the holiday season, what does this mean for modeling and creative direction as a career? The Hollywood strike has already highlighted the complexities around image rights and usage, especially with regards to AI. What happens when future models are 100% AI-generated? It certainly poses some challenging ethical questions for the industry.

While AI is powerful, we’d like to believe that there’s still a necessary human element that can’t be perfectly replicated. But will consumers care enough to make a difference?

On a more optimistic note, AI has the potential to revolutionize not just the modeling and retail industries but also the manufacturing process for brands. For example, last year we had a large chain of brick-and-mortar gyms ask to look at our brand to feature in their gym in-stores. They loved our existing products but were looking for more variety to add to their collection and bring in more SKUs. In this new paradigm, we can swiftly design new SKUs using 3D models which are more than photorealistic.

Physical samples could potentially become obsolete. 3D designs on a virtual mannequin can become hyper-realistic 2D images of the articles — offering a comprehensive view of the new designs.

What’s more, the flexibility of AI allows us to adjust various elements like the background, the model, and the clothing itself to meet the customer’s vision. Brands have been manipulating images to align with their vision for years. With the advent of AI, we can update that vision extremely quickly, without disrupting anyone’s day or even manufacturing a single article of clothing.

This approach not only streamlines the design and marketing processes but also opens up new avenues for customization and rapid adaptation to market trends. It’s potentially a win-win situation for brands and consumers, provided we respect existing ethical and legal standards.

Are we already at the point of generating an entire catalog of products with photorealistic creative before manufacturing, photo shoots, sampling etc? We are pretty close.