How AI Is Making The Fashion Industry More Sustainable

By Lena Milten

The fashion industry as it stands today is not sustainable in the truest sense of the word; we cannot continue to produce clothing in the way we are now. 

The fashion industry is one of the most polluting industries in the world and contributes to 10% of annual global carbon emissions. Our consumption of clothing is rising astronomically, and with it rises the fashion industry’s pollution and carbon footprint. 

However, achieving sustainability in fashion presents great difficulty, as the industry is truly global and faces many pressures to keep costs low and keep output high.

Artificial intelligence (AI) presents new opportunities to increase sustainability in the fashion industry. While the technology is still relatively new, many brands have already begun using AI in creative ways that help reduce waste and reduce carbon emissions.


One of the most exciting innovations in AI and fashion sustainability is the use of AI to predict future trends. Clothing companies spend much time, effort, and money predicting fashion trends, and then create waste and pollution manufacturing those trends, only to produce clothing that doesn’t sell. AI trend forecasting eliminates some of the uncertainty and human error currently derailing trend forecasting, helping companies invest in clothing concepts that will sell.

 AI trend forecasting works to understand a company’s target market and how they may respond to clothing trends. By predicting trends with higher accuracy, AI can help companies cut off production of clothing lines that won’t sell. This reduces unnecessary waste, reduces water use in production, reduces pollution, and reduces carbon emissions.

AI helps predict type and quantities of fabric, helping companies reduce excess scrap fabric. Additionally, AI can help keep track of inventories of already-produced clothes, helping companies achieve proper production size.


AI makes thrift shopping, a sustainable shopping practice, easier. Thrifting, or buying used clothing, is a great sustainable shopping option, as it reduces the demand for new clothes. Slowing production of new clothing reduces carbon emissions and reduces the amount of waste and pollution created in the production process.

Several online used-clothing platforms, such as Depop, are using AI to provide smarter recommendations to their customers. This use of AI makes buying used clothing much easier, as you don’t have to go sort through racks of clothing to find something specific or something you like. 

If AI makes thrifting easier, more people are likely to buy used, rather than going to buy something new simply because it’s the simpler option.


Before a clothing item is sold, it goes through many stages of review, sometimes requiring up to 20 samples of the item. Instead, fashion brands are increasingly relying on AI-created 3D models of the clothing, rather than physically producing samples.

AI can even create digital models to wear clothes that have not been manufactured yet, making the review process much less wasteful. This also helps companies reduce the costs of creating samples.

AI makes the process of 3D modelling much faster and more efficient, which can help clothing streamline production and also reduces the need for human labor. That said, AI 3D modeling is still being perfected, and still requires some human input to truly get the model to look realistic.

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