Skip to content

AI catwalk collection shows the future of fashion

A fashion design undergraduate who used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a collection of original knitwear designs says engaging with the technology will enhance - not replace - human creativity.

AI-inspired designs

AI catwalk collection shows the future of fashion

A fashion design undergraduate who used artificial intelligence (AI) to create a collection of original knitwear designs says engaging with the technology will enhance - not replace - human creativity.

Imogen Hawkes, 23, says there is ‘nothing to fear’ in using AI as a creative tool as it can lead to clothing designs that were previously unimagined.

The Nottingham Trent University (NTU) undergraduate says the technology cannot work on its own without creative input from real people and it should be seen as a collaboration between man and machine.

“I’ve always been excited about technology and the future,” says Imogen, who is studying BA (Hons) Fashion Knitwear Design. “AI is the new internet of our time and it’s going to change everything.

“It will be able to do all the menial tasks for us and give people more time for leisure and creativity. And it will allow people to make creations in unimagined ways, adding to their creative skills and taking them in new directions.”

AI-inspired gloves

Imogen, originally from Weeke in Winchester, used AI programme Midjourney to help create a range of garments and patterns in conjunction with other textiles-orientated computer programmes.

The undergraduate entered a range of text prompts to the programme which included ‘connection’, ‘Symbiocene’, ‘texture’, ‘movement’ and ‘do androids dream of electric sheep’ after the science fiction novel which inspired the film Bladerunner. The AI interpreted this and provided her with a selection of patterns which she was able to enhance and scale up through different functions of the software.

For a separate pattern, Imogen manually painted her own string pulls on canvas and loaded images of them into Midjourney, which produced a new image which she projected onto virtual mannequins and created 3D modelled clothes using special fashion design software. Based on this, a knitting programme then created zero-waste fabrics and Imogen then turned them into original garments by hand.

“Something as simple as a text prompt can give you a basic inspiration and it can help you produce more ideas, faster,” said Imogen, who is studying in the Nottingham School of Art & Design.

An edited image of the AI designs

“In many ways it also democratises art. You don’t need to have expensive technology that’s often out of people’s means, and nor do you need to have good art skills to create artwork. If you’re good with words you can create good images.”

Imogen will see her pioneering designs go on public exhibition for the 2023 art and design Student Showcase at NTU, which is one of the UK’s largest public displays of graduating art and design talent.

Her designs include a bodysuit and seamless gloves covered in ‘googly’ eyes with a printed skirt made from AI-generated imagery; a separate lacework bodysuit with a long cropped jacket made out of e-wrapped fabric; and a “googly eye” headpiece to complement the long coat.

Imogen believes that the ‘googly’ eyes were created by Midjourney interpreting that it is always being watched by people, or by it interpreting that people are afraid of AI.

“I was surprised by the designs. It’s helped me to produce something I didn’t think I ever would,” said Imogen.  “All of my models have said they love wearing these clothes and that they don’t want to take them off.

Imogen (centre) with models
Picture credit: Yiu Kwok Wong ‘YK’ @yk.w852
Imogen Hawkes (middle) with models

“I think people are dubious about whether you or the AI are the creator. But we can’t be constricted by the idea of whether we or the computer have created things. It’s about collaboration. The AI can’t produce this on its own and neither could I, as the style is quite different to things that I’ve produced in the past.

“It’s allowed me to push the boundaries in my work - these are incredibly complex bodysuits and they really hug the body.

“As long as AI is used as a learning tool, then it’s going to be a cause for good and we need to keep it that way. It’s a different and new form of creativity.”

Ian McInnes, principal lecturer in Fashion Knitwear Design at Nottingham Trent University, said: “Imogen has carried out an original way of designing fashion knitwear and showed how artificial intelligence can change the way in which clothing is created.

“Her designs give a glimpse of what might be to come as fashion brands start to use AI as a design tool to aid creativity and inspire new ideas and ways of thinking.”

  • Notes for editors

    Press enquiries please contact Chris Birkle, Public Relations Manager, on telephone +44 (0)115 848 2310, or via email.

    Nottingham Trent University (NTU) received the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education in 2021 for cultural heritage science research. It is the second time that NTU has been bestowed the honour of receiving a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for its research, the first being in 2015 for leading-edge research on the safety and security of global citizens.

    The Research Excellence Framework (2021) classed 83% of NTU’s research activity as either world-leading or internationally excellent. 86% of NTU’s research impact was assessed to be either world-leading or internationally excellent.

    NTU was awarded The Times and The Sunday Times Modern University of the Year 2023 and ranked University of the Year in the Whatuni Student Choice Awards 2023. It was awarded Outstanding Support for Students 2020 (Times Higher Education Awards), University of the Year 2019 (Guardian University Awards, UK Social Mobility Awards), Modern University of the Year 2018 (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide) and University of the Year 2017 (Times Higher Education Awards).

    NTU is the 5th largest UK institution by student numbers, with approximately 40,000 students and more than 4,400 staff located across five campuses. It has an international student population of 7,000 and an NTU community representing over 160 countries.

    Since 2000, NTU has invested £570 million in tools, technology, buildings and facilities.

    NTU is in the UK’s top 10 for number of applications and ranked first for accepted offers (2021 UCAS UG acceptance data). It is also among the UK’s top five recruiters of students from disadvantaged backgrounds and was the first UK university to sign the Social Mobility Pledge.

    NTU is ranked 2nd most sustainable university in the world in the 2022 UI Green Metric University World Rankings (out of more than 900 participating universities).

Published on 7 June 2023
  • Category: Press office; School of Art & Design