The “little black dress” has been considered a staple in women’s fashion since the designer Coco Chanel popularized it in the 1920s. Since then, it’s seen many iterations, most recently, by machine-learning software developed by two recent MIT graduates, called Glitch.
Pinar Yanardag and Emily Salvador met at MIT while taking a course called “How to Generate (Almost) Anything,” which encouraged students to use deep learning software for creative projects. In that course, they dabbled with creating AI-generated art, perfume and jewelry, and were inspired to start Glitch, a new clothing company that sells pieces designed by AI.
“The ‘little black dress’ is considered an essential item that should be in any woman’s wardrobe,” said Yanardag. “Sooner or later, AI is going to be an essential tool for any person in computing, so we thought the ‘little black dress’ was a good place to start.”
The designs generated by Glitch are then sent to designer who brings it to life. Right now, a few designs are available for purchase on their site, with 50 percent of Glitch’s sales of their take on the ‘little black dress’ being donated to AnitaB.org, an organization that supports women entering STEM fields. So far, the majority of their sales have been to women working in tech. “On the surface may look like a nice dress or something,” Salvador said. “But underneath is this powerful statement about your affinity for tech, or your interest in AI and computation.”
The idea, they said, is to use AI in a way that might inspire women to enter the artificial intelligence field, and they plan to create easy-to-use AI tools to generate further interest in the field.
“We are trying to democratize the usage of these AI systems for the public by releasing these tools,” said Yanardag. “If you don’t have these high-end CPUs it is very difficult to actually create these systems. We think in the near future this tech will be much cheaper and more accessible, but right now that isn’t the case.”
One of the tools Salvador and Yanardag developed allows users to generate and choose their own designs that their Glitch tool generates. They think insight about the kinds of designs that customers gravitate to is information that could benefit designers.
“These tools are meant to empower human designers,” Salvador said. “What I think is really cool about these creative-focused AI tools is that there’s still this really compelling need for a human to intervene with the algorithm.”
This article originally appeared on VICE US.