AI and The Process

This is a recap and small expansion on the tiktok I made below. Feel free to watch the TikTok and ignore this blog post, read and ignore the Tiktok, or do both for the full idea!


Maybe the freetime and bandwitdth i have to make outfits is a priviledge, but thats why this is a hobby for me. I like the process. Because every mistake or option that doesnt workout leads to future ideas. Thats valuable! I would never have AI write music for me. The process is the best part! #fashion #menswear #menstyle #ai

♬ original sound – Its Ethan baby

Earlier this week, I saw a TikTok where some annoying tech bro was doing “man on the street” debates about AI. He was completely for it and ready to get into it with anyone who would take the bait (I blame Ben Shapiro and Stephen Crowder for this). One pedestrian actually did entertain the conversation and ended up speaking to the Tiktoker for about five minutes (it may have been longer since the TikTok was edited a bit) about why he believed AI will not take over…or at least not totally replace his job. 

The pedestrian said that they were a designer, specifically an experiential one specializing in performance art and ballet. Obviously, this would be a hard job for AI to replace as most of the “AI vs artists” war has been mainly about illustration, portraits, and concept art. This was emphasized by the fact that their product does not aim for financial “success” and is predicated on human expression, something that AI still has trouble reading, let alone producing. 

The Tiktoker pushed further saying that AI has gotten better and that the latest (and future) iterations of ChatGPT are going to solve those problems. In short, he believed AI will create art that will be indistinguishable from a human-made piece, citing that AI has created animated movies with well-written dialogue and appropriate music.  They agreed to disagree and that’s where the TikTok ends. 

(I really wish I had the link to it. I accidentally refreshed my FYP and I lost it, which led me to summarize it and provide my points in my own TikTok below). 

This exchange really stuck with me. Personally, I’m not a fan of AI-generated stuff, unless it’s meant to be funny (by providing weird prompts and seeing what a “robot” will make). However, AI has been at the forefront of recent conversations. I already alluded to the main one earlier with artists and illustrators, but it’s come up again with how entertainment writers are trying to save their jobs from being replaced by AI. 

Then we have the Articles of Interest episode about the closet from Clueless. For those who don’t know, Cher (the Emma-esque protagonist from the film) has a magical closet that has a computer component that makesgood outfits for her.  Emphasis on good (as it rejects an “incongruous” combo) and for her, as she is too busy being rich and popular to even think about outfits; “As if!”, indeed.  The AOI pod references algorithms and a bit of AI, though it does focus more on apps that catalog your closet.  

The ultimate debate about AI and its use is that it is entirely focused on the end goal. To create something “successful” with the least amount of work possible.  Obviously, there is a huge appeal of AI implementation by entertainment corporations because “success” is equated to max profits and “least amount of work” means “paying less people to do the work”. It is a rough battle that hinges on human contributions to the things we enjoy.    But what happens when we start to look at AI’s use in personal arts? How do we determine success and “least amount of work” in these fields? 

What benefits do we look for with a “good” outfit?

In order to discuss this, we really need to determine the answer to those questions. And this starts becomes harder when there is a financial goal for the thing we are doing. Amateur artists still hustle with their work because money is how we define success. Even fashion hobbyists look toward sponsorships or being on “flow team” as a sign that they have made it. If that isn’t specifically the goal, then there is something else pragmatic like dates or acquiring a job that predicates the reason to make an outfit. Using AI to generate fits that helps with all of it is quite tempting.

The process of “composing” an outfit is one of my favorite elements of this hobby (the other elements are buying/picking and wearing). I just find it magical and so much fun! It starts off being inspired by one piece, like a shirt, a tie, a suit/jacket, a shoe. Sometimes this is predicated by simply being in my room and glancing at my closet; other times, it comes from seeing someone wear something that makes me think of a similar thing (or combo) in my own closet. This flurry of inspiration is how I’m easily able to make outfits, resulting in my infamous backlog (and why I’m never at a loss on what to wear).  I like to get tangible with it by physically pulling things out and putting things together, but at this point I could probably make an outfit thanks to the mental catalog I have. 

While the effort in this may seem minimal and makes an outfit quickly and easily created, the process itself involves quite a bit.  I’m referring to the micro-decisions I make while putting things together. I may take a tie and shirt I want and put it up against suits or jacket/pants, all to see which combination just makes sense to become a full outfit (the closest thing I have to a “product”). 

I wanted to do a checked shirt and motif tie, which resulted in this outfit. I originally was going to use my trusty yellow and blue checked spearpoint but since it was cold (and required my navy sweater vest), this was the final outfit.
The trial pairing stuck with me and led to this outfit!

To be clear, the “right” outfit is not predicated on “appropriateness” to the occasion (there is no dress code for a cafe, trivia night, or staying in my room), but about how much it accurately matches my vibe. I don’t think AI or an algorithm could figure that out for me.  I want to dress in a way that makes me proud. After all, I don’t make outfits that I consider “mid” for myself. Everything is intentional and exactly what I want to wear that day.  

Now you might assume that AI could prevent me from wasting time. After all, just think of how many pairings I discarded in my creation of the final fit! But here’s the thing. I don’t actually do away with them; they weren’t a waste of time. Those jackets, pants, ties, shoes, socks, etc that “didn’t” work with the final fit? They end up being used in other fits. 

All of those pieces inspire other combinations and moods that are ready to be used later. A mismatch isn’t a waste, but inspiration to try it with something else. This is no doubt due to how tangible I get when making outfits. Being able to physically handle each piece makes me get attached to the piece. Maybe I’m weird, but I feel bad putting something back on the rack; if it called out to me, even for a moment to see if it matches the other inspiring things, it must mean I really liked it that day and that I must do it justice by putting it into another outfit. After all, I’ve got a heavily curated wardrobe. Everything I own is good, so a piece just needs to be in the right place. It’s not a negative compulsion but a happy one, trust me! 

I feel like I’d lose this magical process if I relied on AI to make my outfits. If anything, it makes the next outfit come about with ease. It would be weird if I had to start from scratch every time. The process is incredibly integral to how I approach clothing.

The process of making fit is how I come up with variations.
It seems so easy.
I wanted to wear a dark suit, dark shirt, and patterned tie. The winner that day was the bird motif jacquard tie, grey/blue shirt, and navy DB.
The same idea came out here but with a brown SB and a black geometric tie. However there was a temptation to lean into my typical striped shirts, but I stayed strong.
I later used that shirt and suit with this fit.

A lot of these themes are simply fleshed out versions of what didn’t make it in the previous song. They just kept coming!

This whole thing is definitely related to my process of making music. I composed the most music I ever did when I was in high school and early college, a time when I didn’t have photography, writing, or clothing as a creative outlet.  Just like with my menswear hobby, I was dedicated to crafting the music I made up in my head. But as you know, composing in a straight forward way is not easy, especially when it involves a full orchestra and especially if you are trying to compose in service of a short film (even if its one you created for the sake of writing music).

The composing process is long and hard, with different augmentations and orchestrations being cast out in favor of ones that are more accurate to your intended expression. But none of it was a waste of time. Why? Because those melodies went on to inspire other themes or even become fully fleshed out in other mediums. There’s a little bit of self-plagiarism involved, but that’s okay: I want to give everything I make their own time in the sun. Missing out on those melodies means I would’ve missed out on my favorite pieces of my own music.

Overall, I am sharing this because I think it’s important that we redefine success. In all of my cases, success was not based on financial performance but on pride in the finished product and its accuracy to the vision I had. The multitude of “products” that came from the process are equally invaluable and wouldn’t have been conceived if they were filtered out due to AI. Overall, I believe that process and the inspiration it provides is the human aspect of any creative endeavor, which we will lose with more implementation of AI.  It would be great if others could see that and learn how important this is instead of rushing the final product and its financial success.

Of course, this is idealistic. There is a reason why it’s called the entertainment industry; this goes ditto for Fashion (the capital F is not concerned with “wear clothes we think are cool for fun”).  I realize that I am writing this from a place of privilege. I do not make money from any of my “artistic” endeavors nor is my career predicated on what I produce. This makes their battle a supremely important one for the future of creativity and ultimately how we approach the arts, even on a personal level.  It is a scary thought indeed to think of AI’s use in hobbies. 

We should enjoy the process, for all of its efforts, fun, and the different directions it can take us in. This involves us focusing less on pragmatic social and financial goals. I won’t lie; the fact that  I haven’t seen much movement on that front in the past decade, especially in menswear circles, makes this an even more idealistic goal than I originally thought. 

One thing is for certain— I do not dream of the Clueless closet.

Thanks for reading! Don’t forget that you can support me (or the podcast) on Patreon to get some extra content and access to our exclusive Discord.

Always a pleasure,

Ethan M. Wong

Big thank you to our top tier Patrons (the SaDCast Fanatics): Austin, Philip, Shane, Jarek, Henrik, and Alexander.

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