Fashion label “Collina Strada” faces backlash over AI-generated prints

In this post:

  • Collina Strada and Baggu used AI for designs, sparking controversy.
  • AI’s high energy use raises environmental concerns.
  • Customers reacted negatively on social media, but Collina Strada defended AI as an experiment.

The 15-year-old fashion brand Collina Strada has sparked controversy with its recent collaboration with Baggu, a bag-maker. A recently released collection by the brands was found to have been generated by AI, casting doubts on the brand’s commitment to its stated environmental concerns.

Horse bag designed using Midjourney. Source: New York Post.

The collaboration was characterized by special designs such as horse-shaped handbags and colourful prints. A Reddit user employed the program that can determine AI-generated images and concluded that the design with the 86. 4% probability was created by AI or deepfake. This has left buyers with a lot of questions and a lot of discontentment. 

byu/doobadada from discussion

Environmental concerns intensify due to AI’s high energy consumption

On its website, Collina Strada describes itself as a climate, social justice, change, and expressions brand, but AI technology is often associated with high energy consumption. Reports reveal that the consumption of power by AI is likely to more than double the power demand of data centers in the next six years, which is a problem for green energy strategies. Also, the application of AI in the creative industry is a subject of debate where creators’ work is exploited to train AI without their permission. 

Also Read: A study reveals that AI can fool university professors

Following the backlash, Baggu posted on its website that the designs Blue Thorns and Boxer Plaid were ‘AI-conceptualized’ by using the generative AI Midjourney. The description stated that the employees of the Collina Strada used Midjourney to recompose and even upgrade the old prints. The graphics team then made these AI created concepts into the final designs by incorporating logos and other details. 

Creative director Taymour defends AI as an experimental tool

Collina Strada has come out to address the backlash and stated that they have taken the concerns into consideration. 

“We originally developed these prints for our SS24 collection ‘Soft is Hard’ by inputting Collina prints from previous seasons and using the ‘blend’ feature to remix them together.”

 Collina Strada creative director Hillary Taymour

In a statement to Mashable, the label stated that Midjourney did not eliminate human designers but was an experimental tool for the season only.  In the social media space, the reaction to a Collina Strada post on Instagram had the people expressing their dissatisfaction. 

Also Read: Global businesses struggle to harness the full potential of generative AI

One of them recalled that they decided to cancel the order when they heard about the AI patterns. One of the reviewers disagreed with the idea of AI, noting that it is detrimental to artists and the environment. A third person commented on the matter wanting other people to make firms understand that uncontrolled and immoral application of AI is undesirable. 

Reddit users were also dismayed by screenshots showing Collina Strada’s Art Director, Charlie Engman, seemingly dismissing concerns. Engman shared an Instagram story in response to the comments and said, “Endlessly fascinated by the punitive urge to foment public judgment over an artistic process in the name of protecting artists.” Engman has openly embraced the use of artificial intelligence in his creations. The debate on the use of AI by Collina Strada is an example of the social issues concerning sustainability and authenticity in fashion. 

Cryptopolitan Reporting by Brenda Kanana

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