How the Concept Zone Visualised MAN+MACHINE [Video]

This blog post and video production is sponsored by Bluezone, the independent show for denim and sportswear by Munich Fabric Start. The next show is September 4-5. Register here!

The revolution is here! (The denim revolution that is.)

The days when patterns would be drawn by hand; the days when fabric would be cut manually; the days when human hands would sew, stitch and scrape your jeans; those days they’re soon over.

Before you know it, computers and robots will be making your jeans. Especially the laundry stage of the process is witnessing fundamental disruption.

New laundry technologies such as laser have been edging their way into washhouses since the early 2000s, Giovanni Petrin explained in a recent blog post about the history of pre-washed jeans. (But the revolution hasn’t made many headlines in mainstream media until recently when Levi’s launched their Project F.L.X.)

These new technologies create less waste, use fewer chemicals, enable higher speed to market, and possibly result in better products.

But what happens when artificial intelligence and Big Data take over creatively? And how can the two worlds work together? Those were some of the key questions that were addressed at January’s MAN+MACHINE-themed Bluezone show.

At the Concept Zone, the theme’s juxtaposition was presented visually in eight concepts. I interviewed Lucie and Tilmann Wröbel of the Paris-based denim lifestyle studio, Monsieur-T., who’re the creative force developing a perceptible new Concept Zone in close collaboration with Munich Fabric Start’s creative trend team around Frank Junker, Jo Baumgartner and Panos Sofianos.

Munich Fabric Start Bluezone All Star Mills hall January 2018
The All Star Mills hall at Munich Fabric Start’s Bluezone show in January 2018.

The Concept Zone Merged MAN and MACHINE

In certain businesses today, machines are taking over creativity,” Tilmann argues.

The result is what he calls ‘logical creativity,’ which is mostly based on analyses and algorithms, and that results in very logical products.

On the other side, there’s man-made creativity, which is irrational and emotional. And Tilmann questions whether this illogical human creativity that can be analysed by algorithms.

Lucie, Tilmann and the team translated the theme of the show into eight concepts; four of them representing the ‘man’ side of the equation, and four representing the ‘machine.’

The concept shows fabrics, trims, not to mention designs, Lucie explained. On the ‘machine’ side, you had logical designs, which could be made by algorithms and software generated creativity.

On the other side of the Concept Zone were the emotional designs. For instance, the concept ‘Artistic License’ goes beyond the idea of five-pocket jeans that are designed based on popular demand.

There’s something else today to denim,” Tilmann argues. “Premium brands are getting back into denim, and you once again see it on the catwalks in Milan, Paris, London and New York.”

The Difference Between AI Design and Human Design

In a time where designs are getting more and more logical, the goal of the Concept Zone is to show that denim needs to be about emotions.

The biggest difference between design made by artificial intelligence and design made by humans is that only humans can create the truly unexpected, Tilmann argues.

“In the 1980s, the automotive industry tried for the first time to use computer-generated designs for cars,” Tilmann recalls. “They made the most logical cars in the world. That’s when the industry saw the worst turnover in its history.”

Like jeans designed based on AI and Big Data may be, the cars were completely logical. They had plenty of space and everything that analyses suggested consumers wanted. But they didn’t convey emotion.

Where’s the man next to that machine?” Tilmann rhetorically asks.

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