Key Takeaways from This Week’s Business of Fashion VOICES Conference and State of Fashion Report

It was a big week for both fashion and AI. As the two became more and more intertwined, the Business of Fashion (BoF) VOICES conference was held. BoF and McKinsey also released their report State of Fashion 2024. Both are annual milestones for BoF that provide a comprehensive view of the fashion industry’s trajectory in our high tech era. 

This week, as the fashion industry focused on its future, a clear message resonated to VOICES’ viewers and the report’s readers: AI is already well-integrated into the fashion industry, and this integration will only continue to grow. 

Their vision and values align with those of Lily AI, all of which are stepping forward toward a future of seamless experiences made possible by advancing technology.

The Rising Tide of AI in Fashion

Diving into the BoF VOICES conference, it’s evident that fashion executives are prioritizing AI. In fact, a staggering 73% of fashion executives surveyed by BoF said that they anticipate generative AI to be their top business priority in 2024. This growth carries over to executive spending as well. Over the next three years, up to 74% of retail and e-commerce companies plan to increase their spending on generative AI products. 

This shift towards AI is not just a trend. It’s a strategic move, with the potential to revolutionize the fashion retail landscape, unlocking vast opportunities for both retailers and shoppers.

Aza Raskin, the Co-Founder for Earth Species Project & Center for Humane Technology, echoed that AI is revolutionary for the industry, while noting that it needs to be implemented responsibly by retailers. 

“We need to be thoughtful in its development and implementation, so it can live up to its positive potential,” Raskin said. 

The right AI solution will undoubtedly bring this positive potential to fashion retailers. Here, we take a look at three key takeaways from BoF’s big moments this week, and how Lily AI impacts retailers’ work in efficient, empathetic, and overall positive ways.

Takeaway #1: AI is a Top Priority for Fashion Industry Leaders

In a world where technology is transforming every aspect of business, AI is a major player in the fashion and retail spaces. We see it impacting the industry in huge ways already, as 50% of fashion executives surveyed indicate that their companies are already utilizing generative AI. Their teams’ use habits look like:

  • 34% use it in marketing copywriting
  • 28% in design and product development
  • 26% in marketing visual content
  • 26% in organizational functions
  • 25% in digital shopping and customer experience
  • 13% in supply chain and logistics 
  • 8% in store operations and experiences

Notably, Lily AI enhances several of these critical retail functions—including improving organizational functions with its product attribution technology, boosting customer experiences with product recommendations, making supply chain and logistics more efficient through demand forecasting, and providing excellent product results with powerful on-site search technology.

With the potential to improve so much in the retail process—from enhancing customer experiences to driving sales—it’s no wonder that fashion leadership is so eager to embrace the power of AI in 2024. 

Takeaway #2: AI Is a Partner, Not a Replacement

The concerns span industries, and they aren’t any lesser in the fashion world. People everywhere are wondering if the adoption of AI will result in job displacement. The voices of BoF addressed these concerns directly and alleviated them, emphasizing that AI will serve as a partner to humans, boosting efficiency and creativity. Simply replacing jobs isn’t on the table. 

Fashion design leaders like Brunello Cucinelli asserted that AI is a valuable ally to professionals within the fashion world.

“Do not be afraid. AI will be very helpful to us,” said Cucinelli. “It will take away menial tasks, so people can focus on higher value work. 

Anca Marola, Chief Data Officer of LVMH, echoed this sentiment in her VOICES talk, describing how AI can maximize design efficiency. She cited examples of how AI software makes swapping design colors and embellishments easier than ever. Now, this task can be done in seconds, rather than weeks, speeding up production processes.

Lily AI aims to seamlessly integrate into existing retailer workflows, maximizing their efficiencies and assisting retailers in their processes. It injects customer-centric language across retailers’ PIM, while integrating seamlessly into existing tech stacks. There’s no need to “rip and replace” any software you’re currently using. 

Lily AI’s simplicity of implementation ensures that teams can enhance customer experiences swiftly, providing a tangible and immediate impact on retail operations. It serves as retailers’ co-pilot, as Rachel Higham, CIO of WPP, explained. 

“Will AI take your job? No, but it can be your co-pilot, “ Higham stated. “There are aspects of the creative process that cannot be taken away by the machine, but can certainly be augmented by it.”

Takeaway #3: AI Can Be Empathetic

It may sound counter-intuitive, but artificial intelligence can understand sentiment, and therefore, function with empathy. In fact, Miriam Chahin, Global Director at Microsoft, stated that AI operates on an empathetic spectrum.

Empathy is one of Lily AI’s guiding principles and core values. In fact, Lily was founded with empathetic retail experiences in mind, with the hopes of providing products to shoppers, across the Fashion, Beauty, and Home retail verticals. 

Lily’s AI reflects a nuanced understanding of customer preferences and sentiments, based on their unique shopping journeys. For example, Lily’s product recommendation function fosters a sense of connection with shoppers, because it understands their stylistic preferences. The AI therefore reflects human feelings and experiences back to customers, making them feel seen.

The VOICES host Imran Amed, the Founder and CEO of The Business of Fashion, said that today’s technology is revolutionizing retail in both machine-oriented and human-centric ways. 

“AI isn’t just for efficiency,” Amed said, “It can also be used for creativity.” 

Lily agrees, believing that AI’s efficiency will be seen across the entire retail value chain in the coming years . . . and its extension of creativity will be seen in making empathetic retail experiences for real-world shoppers of all backgrounds.

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