This Veteran Fashion Designer Wants AI To Carry Forward Her Legacy; Here's How

This Veteran Fashion Designer Wants AI To Carry Forward Her Legacy; Here's How
Designer Norma Kamali attends the 39th annual AAFA American Image Awards | Getty Images | Photo by John Lamparski

New York fashion designer Norma Kamali with over five decades of experience is pioneering a novel approach using artificial intelligence (AI) to ensure her creative legacy lives on. At 78, Kamali is not ready to retire but she is thinking about the future of her eponymous fashion label, per a CNN report. Kamali has turned to AI to “download her brain” and create an AI version of herself which would continue to create designs like her, well after she’s gone.



 

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Kamali may be the first to use AI so extensively to continue her legacy. She has been working with the AI-focused agency Maison Meta to build a custom AI tool that can generate new designs based on the data from her original designs and text prompts. Kamali first considered training her own AI after she was approached by an e-commerce company that wanted to have AI do all its design.

The company wanted to download her brain but Kamali rejected the idea. However, the thought stuck to her and she wanted to do something like that for her own company. In 2023, she contacted Maison Meta, which organized the first AI Fashion Week with Revolve to work on the project.



 

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In her decorated career, Kamali has created thousands of designs and images that are now fed to the AI model, teaching it the designer’s style. “I have the advantage of that because it’s 56 years of content and there’s only been one designer. It hasn’t had different identities. It hasn’t had that mix-up. It’s very exciting. It gives my company a really big value that way…” Kamali said in the CNN report.

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For a founder-led label like Kamali’s, the succession of the company is an important issue. Companies such as Helmut Lang and Ann Demeulemeester were defined by their creators and have struggled since their founder’s departures.

Thus, to prevent something similar from happening to her label, Kamali has turned to AI which offers a new, unconventional, means of carrying forward her legacy. However, it all depends on how well the AI model works and that is yet to be determined.



 

Kamali’s enthusiasm for technology dates back to the 1960s, when she worked for Northwest Airlines using an early computer, the Univac, as per the report. She has been interested in technology ever since and has looked for ways to integrate it into her business.

Previously, she worked on a fashion game tied to a line she designed for Walmart, and that is when the idea of using AI came to her. In the end, the intent isn’t to have the machine replace human designers and Kamali thinks AI has its limits. She expressed that the model would require inputs from people with original ideas to make the best use of it.

She hopes that when she’s no longer there, her team will still be able to draw on her creativity with the help of AI as if she were still with them.

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