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The Future Of Fashion: Why Robots Will Rule The Runway

Robots are inspiring, modeling, manufacturing and designing Fashion.

You may not be aware of the robots around you, or that they are seamlessly, and essentially, integrated into all facets of the fashion industry.

From concept to manufacturing, iteration to delivery, and profoundly impacting “style” itself, robotics and artificial intelligence are influencing and transforming the fashion industry. 

Robots - Are Style Icons:

Fashion is a mirror and a precursor - responding to, and simultaneously influencing, desire. 
Designers attempt to present idealized visions of the fantastic while providing a practical iteration of that same vision.

To succeed, the fashion industry strives to both acknowledge and anticipate aesthetic and cultural trends. And, one trend that cannot be ignored is the proliferation of robotics, real and fantastical, contemporary and theoretical.

This trend is not new.  Robots have been influencing fashion, and vice versa, for nearly 90 years.  

Fritz Lang: Metropolis
Metropolis is a 1927 German expressionist silent movie directed by Fritz Lang. It is the first feature-length film to feature a robot and is regarded as a seminal work of science fiction. The films look, costumes and robots have been highly influential on the fashion runway.

Italian Vogue Magazine

Tom Ford, Max Mara, Karl Lagerfeld, Givenchy and many others have credited Metropolis as inspiration for their collections.

Steven Klein for W Magazine

"Robot Fashion” is a trend that is neither running out of runway nor battery power. 

As robots increasingly enter our everyday lives their impact on the fashions of our times grows correspondingly. Many of today's robots are portrayed as "better" than human; resistance is futile, emulation is inevitable.

HUMANS - British TV Show - (c) Channel 4 & AMC

Ex Machina - (c) Universal Pictures

From Pinterest Boards

Robots - Will Be Fashion Designers

Soon, robots will be designing fashion clothing, predicting trends, acting as stylists and will act as personal valets.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is adept at assessing our wants, likes and personality. 
According to recent studies conducted at Stanford University and the University of Cambridge, artificially intelligent computers can assess a person’s personality more accurately than can humans.

AI is widely used to evaluate preferences and make recommendations, in music (Pandora, Spotify, Apple Music), dating partners (,,, books (,, and food.

Kevin Kelly reported on Watson (an IBM Artificial Intelligence Computer) creating culinary recipes, on "his" own…

“In March of this year. IBM researchers overlaid Watson with a culinary database comprising online recipes, nutritional facts, and flavor research on what makes compounds taste pleasant.”  

“From this pile of data, Watson dreamed up novel dishes based on flavor profiles and patterns from existing dishes, and willing human chefs cooked them. One crowd favorite generated from Watson's mind was a tasty version of fish and chips using ceviche and fried plantains.” 

“For lunch at the IBM labs in Yorktown Heights I slurped down that one and another tasty Watson invention: Swiss/Thai asparagus quiche. Not bad! It's unlikely that either one would ever have occurred to humans.”

The same principles of machine learning and big data apply to the creation of fashion. 

Artificial Intelligence will delve into the fashion database, publications, runway shows, photographs, pattern and fabric designs, human anatomy, historical preferences, global trends, and sell-through statistics. Computers and robots will use this information to create unique fashion designs never imagined by human designers.

Robots - The Next Runway Models

Gorgeous, quirky, graceful and great clothes hangars. Whatever attributes are requisite for a runway model are becoming possible for robots to emulate.  The next "IT" girl may be an IT.

“Fashion has been especially quick to seize on the notion that robots are slicker, more perfect versions of ourselves.” - Ruth La Ferla for The New York Times 

“In the last few months alone, androids have filtered into the glossies and stalked the runways of designers as audacious as Thom Browne and Rick Owens, and of inventive newcomers like David Koma, who riffed on fembot imagery in his fall 2015 collection for Mugler, sending out models in frocks that were patterned with soldering dots and faux computer circuitry.”  

“Formidable and preternaturally glamorous, those models and their synthetic pop-culture kin may well inspire envy and a covert urge to merge with the machine. But they also spawn the kind of dread that’s been rivaled of late only by the walking dead.“ 

“Sleeker, smarter and more coolly efficient than their human counterparts, these next-generation bots boast advanced motor skills, superhuman consciousness and even subtle facial tics that mimic those of their makers.”
"What’s more, they’re better looking."

Seven years ago, Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology created the feminine-looking robot HRP-4C also known as “Miim” – she kicked off Tokyo Fashion Week as a runway model.

Miim - (c) National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology

Miim measures 5’ 2” and 95 pounds, quite a bit shorter than an American fashion model, yet “just right” for Japan. Miim can respond to speech, a possibly non-essential runway skill.

Earlier this year, Blanca Li used robots for her fashion performance piece in Brooklyn, New York.

Li stated, “because he’s wearing Louboutin, the robot will be very, very happy.”

Robots will fall, too.  A slippery Prada Fashion Show

Robots - On and Off The Runway:

Robots are creating fashion, in real time:

In 1999, Alexander McQueen created a glorious white dress. A fashion model donned the dress, walked the runway, and the dress was then spray painted by two industrial robots, in front of the audience.

Alexander McQueen - Fashion Week 1999
Technology is infiltrating the fashion industry in many other ways; from 3-D printed dresses to wearable technology, from nano-technology performance enhancements to digital fabrics that display tweets.

3-D Printed Dress - (c) Museum of Modern Art

And, a robot was most likely involved in packing and shipping your most recent fashion purchase.

KIVA robots - packing and shipping

Robots are designing, influencing and wearing fashion apparel and accessories.

Tomorrow, robots will choose your clothes, do your laundry, and chide you for fashion faux pas.  Are you ready?

(c) David J. Katz, New York City

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