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IBM, FIT Partner to Educate Fashion’s Future Leaders on AI

Following a collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger using artificial intelligence (AI) to reimagine retail, the Fashion Institute of Technology’s FIT/Infor Design and Technology Lab (DTech Lab) and IBM announced plans to further embed AI into fashion education at the New York City school, and equip students with the skills to succeed in their apparel-related careers.

Technology today plays a significant role in the creative process and in how retailers bring products to market, merchandise collections and communicate with consumers. FIT and IBM are looking at how to incorporate IBM’s fashion for AI APIs (application programming interface) into multidisciplinary courses from left-brain areas like math, science and creative technology, and to more traditionally right-brain disciplines including design, fashion design, and fashion business management. Students majoring in fashion design, textile development and marketing, international trade and marketing for the fashion industries, and fashion business management will have the opportunity to work with IBM’s AI fashion suite.

“Embedding emerging technology into our lab where faculty and students are solving industry problems is the next step in our evolving relationship with IBM,” Michael Ferraro, director of the FIT/Infor DTech Lab, said. “We’re leveraging the fresh perspectives and new ideas of talented creative students in an agile research environment.”

Beyond educating students with the technology they’ll need to know to succeed in their careers, the FIT/Infor DTech Lab plans to help fashion companies tackle their biggest challenges in planning and allocation, merchandising, product design and development, and customer service and sales. Noting that the DTech Lab is a “safe” environment that can “de-risk” the pursuit of innovation, FIT said the center can partner with fashion brands on projects that enhance supply chains, enterprise operations and customer engagement.

Both faculty and students at FIT will have the opportunity to pursue research projects with IBM experts to investigate sustainability, ways to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of supply chains, and how to develop fashion ontologies, or the network of physical and subjective attributes ascribed to garments and fashion.

“FIT is an educational force that continues to innovate and ensure the future of the creative industries, including fashion. We are proud to partner with IBM,” FIT president Dr. Joyce F. Brown, said. “Together we can look forward to many breakthroughs in resolving the challenges of today and tomorrow.”