Insights / Fashion
”We soon realised that it takes a lot of work to avoid the pitfall of AI biases when creating AI models”
On lessons learned when creating an AI fashion campaign
14 Aug 2023

Who are you?

— I am the founder and designer of AWAN, a Norwegian fashion wellness brand.

How’d you describe the brand?

— We’re disruptive and mission-driven built on circular principles. With an on-demand and co-creational approach to design and production, we are creating the optimal go-to capsule wardrobe for unapologetic women who are no longer willing to compromise between style, comfort, and sustainability in their everyday lives.

This week, you join the Oslo Runway show schedule. What will you show?

— As a brand, we’re also multifaceted and experimental, playing at the intersection of fashion, wellness, and technology. We love diving into new concepts and technology that can strengthen our core values and push us to the next step of our journey, says Miwa Dimmen. She continues:

— This year’s Oslo Runway show is called BECAUSE IT MATTERS. We will reveal our new AI fashion campaign and give a live storytelling presentation of our collection and some of the people behind the clothes. It’s about weaving together and highlighting the connectiveness between the human experience, the clothes we wear, our planet and new technology. We believe that this really, really matters.

What was the most challenging with creating an AI campaign?

— We’ve teamed up with the talented, interdisciplinary visual artist Edmond Yang to create our in-house AI models and a shoot set in several fantastical locations — without the airmiles — to truly highlight the versatility of the collection. 

— We gave him a very clear brief: We want to break with the typical AI stereotypes and show that AI technology can in fact be used to create a more inclusive and sustainable fashion industry. But we soon realised that it takes a lot of work to avoid the pitfall of AI biases when creating AI models. Straight out of the box, AI tools generate the ’perfect’ faces and people with flawless skin textures. This means we had to prompt in wrinkles and natural blemishes to create more realistic representations. In many ways, it is a quite backward process from the typical editing of fashion photography that often aims to remove ’imperfections’, such as wrinkles and natural blemishes.

Will you continue to work with AI?

— Yes, this is just the first test. I am actually really excited to explore this new window of creativity and opportunity. I think it’s pretty clear that AI is here to stay, and that it will change the game in most industries. Our job as a value-driven brand is to use it responsibly, and not lose track of our values and human-ness as core foundation.  

The AI campaign.

On another topic, you’ve also expressed how revenue-based financing can be an integral part of how DTC brands can scale more sustainably with more control over their inventory levels. Can you explain?

— Startups investing in fast growth rarely have positive results in the first years of operation which can make regular bank loans hard to get, and fashion startups especially have high upfront costs for inventory, says Miwa Dimmen. She continues:

— AWAN has used revenue-based production financing for a few years now while operating 100% as a DTC brand and selling directly to our customers through our own online store. This means that we have been able to get short-term financing with an automated repayment schedule based on our recent sales traction, as opposed to loans based on financial reports from the last 3 years of operation. This has made it easier for us to replenish more regularly based on current data and needs as opposed to ’wild’ guesswork.

— Creating a fashion business based on circular principles means being serious about tackling overproduction. We’ve tested and are still testing different ways to achieve the ’perfect’ replenishment flow throughout the year to ensure growth while reducing overproduction and inventory risk, and revenue-based financing has been a key part of this. 

For you, after Oslo Runway, what’s next?

— We’re in the middle of our pre-seed round now, for anyone interested in being part of our mission-driven growth journey.

Anette Miwa Dimmen. Photography: Anja Ka