Fashionable intelligence

What does “responsible AI” mean?

— Like all technology, ai can be used for good or bad purposes. I think most companies want to do good. But the tricky thing is that even if you have the best intentions, things can still go wrong, as you’re outsourcing decision making to an algorithm that you can’t fully control. Most ai today is based on machine learning, using historical data to learn, and there can be a lot of bias in that data. ai systems have a tendency to reproduce and amplify existing prejudice and inequalities in ­society — if not handled properly.

— One concrete example; if you use ai in recruitment to scan through cv:s, and you operate in a male dominated industry, the ai system might then deselect women as potential recruits because of how it looks for patterns in historical data.

What kind of bias could you have at H&M?

— We use ai throughout our value chain for aligning supply and demand, to predict what our customers want and love and what we should produce. We look at historical data to predict the future. There isn’t very high risk for bias, but my work is a lot about preparing for a future where we could use AI for other purposes.

What kind of future risks are you mitigating?

— For example, with personalisation, do we want to recommend all types of products to all customers? There is a level of sensitivity in that. But responsible ai is not only about mitigating risks, for us it’s also about using ai as a tool to reach our sustainability goals. If we can better align supply and demand, we can have less transport, less warehousing, and less co2 emissions.

Is this a top secret department of H&M Group and how much do you interact with industry colleagues?

— No, transparency is very important, we collaborate a lot internally and with external partners. However, there are not many industry colleagues as it’s still a quite new area. Although tech companies have worked on ethical ai for quite some time, I haven’t seen many examples from the fashion industry.

For the sake of the readers who might not know what AI is — could you explain the basics?

— The very short answer is, it’s all about pattern recognition. Tasks that computer systems perform that normally require human intelligence. ai today mostly always means machine learning, which is computer systems that learn by themselves; they learn by interacting with the world or analysing historical data. Deep learning is the most fascinating, the most powerful form of machine learning, imitating how neurons in the human brain process information.

From your perspective, have you seen examples where one has mimicked human intelligence?

— I think we’re pretty far away from general intelligence, which is the target state. But there are definitely some mind-blowing examples out there, like the language model gpt-3, which generates very realistic text. As a writer and former journalist, I find this development extremely fascinating, and at the same time frightening. It could have huge implications on news, fake news, content and media in the coming years.

The futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts we will reach general artificial intelligence in 2030, do you agree?

— I can see hints of it with ­gpt-3, it generalises quite well between different tasks. The basic principles are there, I think, but of course it’s impossible to say when and if we will reach it. 

Do you want us to reach it?

— From a curiosity perspective, yes, but from a real world perspective I’m not so sure. It depends on what goals this general ai would have. If it would treat us humans like ants, not understanding our needs. It could be dangerous.

Coming back to the transformation, what does it mean to you?

 — Talking specifically about ai, I believe this technology has a huge transformative power, comparable to how the internet has changed the world, or maybe even beyond that. But our conversation in society around ai is still very immature. Powerful and immature — that’s an explosive cocktail. I keep reminding myself that ai may be powerful, but it is not a force of its own (at least not yet…). It is we, humans, who are steering and driving the development of ai. And we have a shared responsibility in getting it right. That’s why we need to include as many as possible in the conversation about how we want to live with ai. So that we can use this transformative power as a force for good. 


”We will take more care of our cities in the future, not just exploit them”

Based in Oslo, Vésma Kontere McQuillan is an architect, writer, and editor as well as Professor at the Kristiania University College, where she also chairs ArchCommLAB research group. The group’s also publishing a webzine, Nofilter. Space, where she’s the Editor-in-chief, which is produced by faculty and students in interaction with external collaborators. It explores a new typology of spaces emerging in the cross-section where architecture, fashion, and design meet contemporary visual media platforms, such as Instagram. It’s comprised of academic articles, student and alumni projects, and reportage and published continuously.

While working on her main research project, a case study OMA/AMO x Prada, Kontere McQuillan realized that architectural writing lacked the theoretical framework to analyze fashion shows. So, she initiated the recently launched book project Fashion spaces: A Theoretical View. 

— This is the first attempt to create a ”state of–the–art” textbook for fashion spaces in the context of architectural social science, relevant both for architects and fashion designers.

The result is a new type of book that Kontere McQuillan calls academic coffee–table book.

— The content is theoretical, she tells, but visuals have a look of a professional commercial fashion/design magazine. Following an introductory academic essay by me and my colleague Kjeld Hansen, which tackles research problematics in the field and presents a conceptual model for further research, there are seven case studies developed by students to explore possible applications of this model. Besides, the book features fashion shows by Prada and Gosha Rubcinskiy. I see it as the future of publishing within the intersection of architectural and fashion domains.

What do you think about the future of retail and fashion spaces?

— Even if the pandemic’s global impact has become clear for now, as did its implications for all industries and all areas of our lives, I must say the future course remains uncertain, and its true meanings are yet to be understood. Much of the fashion industry has already moved online. The development of virtual spaces is accelerating, requiring innovative social media strategies and a strong focus on consumer interaction. At the same time, this movement to digital was very much mandatory. There was no choice, so there will be a backlash of people getting tired of digital realities at some point.

You mention social media, how has and will those change the conditions?

— The book describes social media’s impact and its strategies through case studies critical to modern fashion history: From the first use of Twitter by Lady Gaga to give colossal publicity to the live-stream fashion show of McQueen’s ”Plato’s Atlantis” SS210 until Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 6 presentation utilizing an entirely new format feed by reality TV. There are no fashion shows without social media for now, but it might change while looking for new exclusivity in the post-covid future. 

What’s typical for fashion spaces in Scandinavia compared to the rest of the world?

— I would say it’s a strong focus on circular product strategies and sustainability as backbone concepts. The fashion industry is currently going through a significant change in its approach towards sustainability, aiming to transform from a wasteful and polluting sector into a more circular industry. I believe Scandinavian brands are pioneering both fashion and spatial production.

What will our cities and city centers look like in the future?

— First, there is a need to reconfigured architectural solutions — both physical and digital — and develop processes or guidelines for a circular and sustainable future for retail and fashion spaces that are a big part of city centers. Right now, we are at the tipping point for many reasons, but this is an opportunity to reimagine our cities the way they should be through the interplay of cross-sectoral and research-based innovation. We will take more care of our cities in the future, not just exploit them.

The book is available via the publisher Frame Publishers’ online store and all big internet booksellers such as amazon.


How Helly Hansen’s technology innovation disrupts the market

Founded in 1877, Helly Hansen has developed a long list of first-to-market innovations, including the first supple waterproof fabrics more than 140 years ago. Other past breakthroughs include the first fleece fabrics in the 1960s, the first technical base layers Lifa Stay Dry Technology in the 1970s, and the award-winning and patented H2Flow temperature regulating system. Most recently is the launch of their most innovative and sustainable waterproof and breathable technology to date, Lifa Infinity Pro. Category Managing Director Philip Tavell, who joined Helly Hansen from Red Bull and then Craft Sportswear after an 11-year long professional athletic career, explains how it’s challenging the industry norm.

— I’d say that it [the technology] pushes the envelope in apparel design, he says. Through advanced textile engineering and development, we wanted to disrupt the industry to find a way to completely remove all added chemicals without losing the performance of the products, as the whole textile industry has a challenge with added DWR treatments to create water repellency. We are currently using the technology in 2 garments and will expand it into more products this year.

How did it come to life?

— We realized that our proprietary LIFA technology — a lightweight and hydrophobic fiber where the fully waterproof and breathable membrane, as well as durable water repellent performance, are achieved without the use of chemicals — that is currently used in baselayers and insulation had some great properties that we explored to use in other types of products. Combining the solvent free Lifa Infinity membrane with 100% Lifa hydrophobic solution dyed face fabric — which saves roughly 85% in water consumption — Lifa Infinity Pro is a ground-breaking technology, with extreme waterproofness and breathability. With everlasting water repellent protection that never needs to be reproofed with chemical treatment after use, it delivers long-lasting, responsible, and superior professional-grade performance. We are the only brand globally using this technology and being able to create a performance garments without any added chemical treatments, says Tavell.

What was the hardest challenge?

— Our textile engineers have pulled the heaviest weight in this development. Being the first brand to use it, all advanced developments have been a first for everyone. There has been a couple of years of trial and error to get the right structure of the face fabric and working very close to the production engineers to fine tune production methods.

Do you have any other special technology coming in 2021?

— We are continuing our work to do more responsible choices and create garments ready to be recycled at end of life. Currently, we are promoting a concept called Mono Material where all garments are made out of 1 fiber to be easily recycled into new yarns and garments. For 2021, we are including ski apparel into this concept to expand our effort in this area.


Gucci and The North Face collaboration debuts on Pokemon GO

American outdoor brand The North Face and Italian luxury brand Gucci is yet to release their anticipated collection to the public, at least in physical form. Earlier this week, the two brands turned to The Pokemon Company and its AR developer Niantic to debut the t-shirts, hats, and backpacks. Pokemon GO gamers can dress their Avatars in the collaboration for ”a limited time”, so be quick.

Players can look for specific Gucci Pins on the app’s immersive map, where they can access the digital collaboration for free. There are 100 total pick-up-points, spread out in cities all over the world.

For the people who like to keep it old-fashioned and purchase the collection in physical form, the online purchasing raffle opens on January 9 and general sale opens on January 22.

The digitisation of the fashion industry is developing at a rapid pace. The global pandemic has accelerated this phenomenon, next month, Copenhagen Fashion Week is set to be fully digitised and won’t have a physical fair, Cecilie Thorsmark, CEO of Copenhagen Fashion Week, told Dansk Mode & Textil.


The Transformation Exhibition 6/11

Photographer Ahmet Unver and stylist Maria Barsoum showcase the transformation for teenagers who are trying to transfer into adults.

Tell us about the team? 
Fashion and documentary photographer Ahmet Unver, exciting and up-and-coming stylist Maria Barsoum, hair enthusiast Philip Fohlin and makeup artist Sara Eriksson.

How did you choose to interpret the theme of Transformation in your story?

I thought of teenagers who are coming of age and are trying to find their identities. Subsequently, teenagers are going through a massive transformation. And I really hope that they will be the generation to bring change to our societies for a better future. 

Why is this angle/intepretation important right now?

I wouldn’t claim it’s a new angle, but still important to lift youth.

Tell us about the production; where did you shoot and why? 

We shot in Södermalm as it’s a vibrant meeting point of Stockholm with lots of youthful energy and ideas.

What was the most challenging part about this production? 

The casting and the weather. We got lucky with both. Mathias at Nisch was very helpful regarding the casting.

What was the most rewarding part of this production?

The day of the shoot, the photos and spending time with the models and the crew.

What is the most important issue to focus on in the immediate future?

Amongst many things, more equal opportunities for all minorities in the creative industries. I don’t see the different minorities we have in Sweden being represented in tarts, and compared to London we’re way behind. I think it’s super important that young people with minority backgrounds get role models from early on. 


Our 10 favourite fashion, beauty, and design news in 2020

Here’s the first machine to separate and recycle cotton and polyester blends at scale

Retail chain Monki drops special collection created by The Green Machine.


Have these 4 sneaker brands cracked the sustainability code?

Leave actual footprints rather than carbon footprints — delve into our editor of sustainability’s top tips for sustainable runners.


Made to be thrown away — Vollebak’s latest hoodie is fully compostable

Specifically made to end up in your compost bin.


”Wearables now allow the user insight into their wellbeing on a holistic level”

We speak to Liisa Puranen, Managing Director at Polar Nordics, about the rapid development of smart sport watches.


Look good, play good — Longchamp and Pokemon GO drop digital backpack

A great way to converge fashion and gaming for Paris Fashion Week.


The world’s first green department store opens today

Eataly founder opens the doors to ambitious project Green Pea in Turin.


Jan Klingler’s Bacteria lamp is a crossover between science, art, and industrial design

”People are absolutely intrigued by the abstract patterns and colours of the microbes and often won’t believe that bacteria can be this beautiful,” he says.


5 tips for furnishing your home with technology

Swedish interior decorator Henrik Nero and Samsung have put together five dos and don’ts when decorating your home with technology.


How the recent lifestyle changes affect the skin — and what to do about it

The skincare expert shares her insights for the colder months to come.


It’s 2020 – are men ready for makeup now?

”There is loads of advanced makeup for women but now there is a straight forward concept also for men,” says Carl & Son’s CEO Andreas Wiik after the launch of their ”no makeup makeup” line.



The Transformation Exhibition 4/11

Tell us about the team. 

— This was the first time for all of us as working as a team. Henrik Haue made four amazing pieces of wigs for us, Melanie Buchhave styled and masterminded the whole project, Kolbrun Ran did an amazing job with matching the makeup with the story. And yours truly photographed it!

How did you choose to interpret the theme of Transformation in your story?

— By making the transformation invisible! We made four photos of a woman ageing from 29 years old until she is 73 years old. The point of the transformation focus is that she transforms her face with help of plastic surgery to look the same, regardless of her age. We got the idea when we saw pictures of Cher looking the same when she was 29 and when she was 73. Both scary and impressive at the same time!

Tell us about the production; where did you shoot and why?

— In a studio in Copenhagen, since we are all based here. 

Why is this angle/interpretation important right now?

— We think it is very interesting why it’s so important for women right now to not look like they get older. Why is that?


Björn Borg uses recycled coffee waste for new Christmas Collection

The Christmas Collection is inspired by the new reality we are facing with lockdowns, working from home, and strong restrictions regarding how and where to train, tells Creative Director Andreas Gran.

—The new sweatsuit program is perfect for a ​video conference at home as well as to and from the gym. ​The materials are of course sustainably sourced.

Through their sustainability program B. Tomorrow, Björn Borg aims towards a fully sustainable range. They now use 0% conventional cotton and have reached a 42% decrease in Co2 carbon footprint since 2013. And, adding innovation to their Christmas Collection using S.Café’s technology not only helps them to reach that goal but also increases its functionality.

— S. Café is a fabric manufacturer from Taiwan doing yarn out of recycled coffee waste. With so much of the coffee bean ending up in the trash, S.Café recycles the waste from local café chains, and makes fabric out of it, in a mix with recycled PET. The fabric offers 200% faster drying than cotton, absorbs odors, and reflects UV rays. One T-shirt can be made out of three cups of coffee grounds and five recycled plastic bottles, tells Gran.

When Björn Borg started to see restrictions at gyms, they saw a need to add products that could help maintain good habits at home instead, now launching their own home workout equipment range.

— It’s a kit of training products that make it possible to complete a great workout at home. Training for me is a way to deal with life. To get ​the strength to take on the challenges you face at work and in life. To get calm, happy, and a better version of myself. So, I use it almost every day, says Gran.


The Transformation Exhibition 3/11

Tell us about the team.

Sometimes you run into people who it seems you share the same eyes with. Henrik Bülow and I work a lot together, but makeup artist Regina Thornwall and hairstylist Lasse P are creative sources that we often share sets with. Model Nikk Tisseni, has a strong character and is extremely feminine, intense, and has this unpretentious dreaming look in her eyes. Much like the models we have worked with before. 

How did you choose to interpret the theme of Transformation in your story?

Working with light and shadow mostly, the retouch and post production takes the now into the past. Even the model’s character suggests a certain motion towards something — either in her expression, position, eyes or movement.

Why is this angle/intepretation important right now? 

To appreciate story and theme, as we need to morph the past into the present — to show the timelessness across timelines.

Tell us about the production; where did you shoot and why? 

The story is shot in The Lab in Copenhagen. It’s my favorite favorite place to be creative. The canvas at The Lab is where your ideas come true.

What was the most challenging part about this production? 

The casting of the right girl, especially considering COVID-19 travel restrictions. Nikki was on top of our wishlist, and somehow it succeeded in getting her on! WE Have wanted to work with her a few times, and we’re so happy with the result.

What was the most rewarding part of this production? 

It is always interesting to work from the Dogme perspective. The theme transformation is a universal and ongoing theme and a very inspiring guide doing the images from

What is the most important issue to focus on in the immediate future?

Except for less consumption and more focus on the environment, I believe getting back to what humanity is in its finest form will be highly talked about. Call it a new romantic age.

Now live! The Transformation Exhibition
 at Blique by Nobis

Presented by TMG Sthlm

Curated by Ursula Wångander


Lokal Helsinki’s Christmas shop highlights the best from Finnish artisans

Founded in 2012 by photographer Katja Hagelstam, Lokal Helsinki is an art gallery and shop that showcases locally produced and high-quality art, crafts, and design, available in limited quantities. Their special Christmas store takes place in their new online store as well as in the Art Nouveau landmark Väinämöisenlinna, a striking and ornate stone building from 1901. 

The range includes objects for the home, such as Pino wooden boxes, lightweight and stackable storage items crafted by master carpenter Antrei Hartikainen, ceramicist Nathalie Lautenbacher‘s Kahvi cups in different sizes which create a harmonious atmosphere together with glass artist Renata Jakowleff‘s Kaksi glasses, and fine artist and designer Veera Kulju‘s Ilo textiles. Nikari’s minimalist furniture from Fiskari village showcases the best of traditional carpentry skills and internationally acclaimed Eija Koski has contributed her poetic Himmeli (a traditional Finnish ornament) mobiles, unique works of art made from rye straw she has grown herself.

For clothing and jewellery, Danish label Carcel offers high-quality knitwear and silk clothing produced in women’s prisons in exchange for fair wages. The world of fragrances is represented by Nakuna Helsinki, inspired by the quintessentially Finnish trait ”sisu” (meaning perseverance against the odds), whose range by Anu Igoni and Jaakko Veijola has been created for an international audience in collaboration with top noses.

Last, but not least, the shop includes artwork. Naturally, as one of Lokal Helsinki’s core purposes is to showcase the work of independent artists and designers and the temporary exhibitions at Lokal’s Annankatu gallery shop have featured talented artists for the last eight years.