The world of fashion lives from the feel of the fabrics, from colours, cuts and large-scale shows. Can this be transferred to the digital world? Anna Franziska Michel is transforming design processes with her start-up YOONA Technology by using artificial intelligence (AI). The algorithm is trained with drawings, prints, mood boards and creates new designs. She met BetaRoom‘s augmented reality expert Peter Kolski at the MediaTech Hub Accelerator. His company produces storytelling formats for ZDF, Der Spiegel or Sky News under the slogan of “Meaningful AR”. The MauAR app developed by BetaRoom takes Berliners on a walk through the formerly divided city along the Berlin Wall via smartphone and augmented reality (AR).
Anna Franziska Michel and Peter Kolski have now pooled their expertise in AI and AR to revolutionise the fashion industry, as they put it. In January, the YOONA Virtual Showroom app was launched. Based on YOONA’s end-to-end solution, AR represents the final link in the chain. The B2B software enables the designers to work in a customer-centric way and have complete collections developed based on algorithms. The AR app then brings the designers’ latest models into every living room on a real-size avatar. Anyone looking for a new coat can view the garment in real size from all directions and examine details such as seams or the rear view. This means that designer pieces can also be presented before they are even produced. Peter Kolski compares the opportunities offered by the technology to the Internet: “Everyone has access to digital information. We are simply bringing in even more reality. Fashion becomes more concrete.”
Digitisation has thus become the extension for the designers. They continue to work artistically, but added value can be generated thanks to the app or YOONA Technology. Analogue designers can use it to show their work without expensive and lavishly staged fashion shows and physical stores. That also provides global visibility for small independent designers like those working in Berlin.
They both brought their respective perspectives and passions to the table when they were developing the app: as a fashion designer, Anna Franziska knows the ups and downs of the industry and how difficult it is to keep a label in business for the long term. Peter Kolski attaches a lot of importance to storytelling and exploits the technical possibilities of AR to the full. Furthermore, as a programmer, he can take the next steps straightaway without having to assign the work out to an intermediary. Changes and add ons can therefore be quickly implemented and presented. Similar in their approach, both decided against lengthy planning and prototyping to the have the minimal product initially launched on the market as an extension of the YOONA software tools with plans for it to grow organically. The app is available to download in the Apple App Store and is easy to use. The iteration follows in the ongoing process.
It is conceivable that the app can be developed in different directions. After all, 3D representations of designer models are not sufficient: store implementations or the simulation of the entire Fashion Week are being considered. “The challenge here is to translate the magic and the live experience directly into AR,” Kolski says. The approach also offers the advantage that, unlike real fashion shows, the pieces are not produced purely for the show and later lie unsold in warehouses or have to be disposed of. A digitally enhanced fashion show saves resources, sending the models back and forth is no longer necessary. YOONA’s AI technology is already focusing on this sustainable aspect: historical data (for example, collections from the last season), millions of image data, trend data and performance analyses are being collected here and then flow into the design process. This means that nothing is being designed which the customer won’t then buy, as the work is customer-centric. Nonsensical processes that have become deeply ingrained over the years are eliminated.
At the moment, Anna Franziska is conducting user tests with companies to adapt their requirements to the app. “We show what is possible, how one can operate globally as a designer, whether as a corporation or an independent label. Technology is the avant-garde here and Berlin is set to become a pioneer.”
By Christine Lentz
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