It's Paris fashion week and the streets of the city are filled with celebrities, designers, models and journalists. Among the crowds, eagle-eyed experts are taking careful notes. These are the fashion industry's trend forecasters. Their job is to get a sense of the colours, cuts, fabrics and patterns in the designers' new collections, in the hope of detecting emerging trends. Their notes will quickly be added to curated "trend forecasts", which will be sold to designers and high street retailers, who will use them to inspire new pieces and decide what to stock next season – think of the "blue sweater" speech in The Devil Wears Prada, where Meryl Streep's character scathingly explains this process to her naive assistant Andy (played by Anne Hathaway).
AI (Artificial Intelligence) seems to be the next big thing in many industries today. On Gartner's 2020 Hype Cycle of Emerging Technologies, for example, we find no less than seven explicitly AI-related trends in the first steep curve of inflated expectations--such as composite AI, generative AI, responsible AI, embedded AI, and explainable AI. For a term that dates back to 1956 and celebrates its 65th birthday this year, this seems remarkable, especially since the productive application of the currently hyped AI variations is expected to take another two to ten years. In this arena of promising AI technologies, the Dutch AI-based startup Lalaland is an interesting case. They have found a way to make AI work in a way that is both tangible and speaks to the imagination. Using AI technology, they are one of the front-runners that may change the online fashion industry and, arguably, make it more inclusive, sustainable, and profitable, thereby speaking to all three P's of the Triple Bottom Line.