Gift of Garb: How AI Helps Fashion Followers Choose the Best Dress

by Samantha Zee

Wardrobes could sharpen up for online shoppers everywhere, while retailers cut costs, thanks to AI that puts clothes on fashion models in a virtual photo shoot.

A fully staffed, photo fashion shoot can run up to $500 per outfit. Given the thousands of potential looks, many online retailers display their garments without models. Silicon Valley-based thinks it has a fix where clothes could still be showcased by a stylish model, but without the high overhead.

“It’s well known that consumers prefer to see clothes presented on models, but retailers face some really high costs, both in terms of money and in terms of time,” Costa Colbert, chief scientist at, and its parent company MAD Street Den, said at the GPU Technology Conference last month in San Jose. uses its image and video recognition technologies to turn images of garments into new ones that show the garments worn by models. The generated images provide a more helpful visual for consumers, while saving retailers money.

“We can help reduce those costs, but also provide something more appealing and personalized for the consumer,” Colbert said.

GANS for Garments

Vue-ai Showcases a Blue Dress
Vue-ai showcases a blue dress.

Using a machine learning approach called conditional generative adversarial networks, or cGANs,’s tech simultaneously learns to generate images and to distinguish these from real photographic images.

Running on several NVIDIA GPUs, the network learns by observing many pairs of images — one of the garment, another of how that garment looks on a fashion model.

This training reaches a point where the computational critic can’t distinguish the difference between images — and it’s hard for humans to tell the difference either.

Eventually the cGAN learns about clothes — what a long sleeve or an off-the-shoulder collar should look like when worn. It also becomes able to produce “in-between” features, for example, poses or skin colors, which can be controlled by manipulating variables within the network.

“With no real-life models involved, there’s no limit on details such as skin color or body type. Images can be generated on the fly and customized any number of ways for each consumer,” Colbert said. “To the casual observer, the images are just another photograph.”

For apparel makers, retailers and consumers alike, the technology can improve connections with the brand and create a smoother shopping experience, he said.