A model walks the runway during the Selkie NYFW SS23 fashion show on September 14, 2022.
John Lamparski/Stringer/Getty Images
Selkie, a brand known for its puffy dresses, is facing backlash for using AI to create its designs.The brand’s founder, Kimberley Gordon, said she used AI as a tool and base layer for her own artwork.Fans say that choosing not to hire a real artist goes against the brand’s inclusive ethics.
The cult-favorite fashion brand Selkie seems to have fallen from its pedestal after using AI to create new clothing designs.
On January 16, the company known for its fluffy, feminine dresses shared a collage on Instagram to promote its new pet-themed line of Valentine’s Day products.
The image showed accessories, sweaters, and pastel dresses, all of which featured graphic animal prints made by Selkie founder Kimberley Gordon using vintage art, digital painting, and the AI generator Midjourney, according to TechCrunch.
Though some people appreciated the technology, many Selkie fans expressed disappointment in the brand for choosing to use it in place of hiring a human artist.
They also argued that using AI goes against Selkie’s message of encouraging inclusivity, “artistic self-expression,” and ethical manufacturing.
Representatives for Selkie and Gordon did not respond to a request for comment.
“Yeah this is an unfollow for me. Nearly $500 CAD for one dress and the print isn’t even made by a human? Buh-bye,” one person wrote.
“Will not be purchasing anything going forward. So sad, as I truly love all my Selkie dresses. I will be purchasing from other designers,” another Instagram user said.
Some people also questioned if other graphic prints on Selkie clothing had been made with AI.
“God, I feel like I need to cancel my preorder now – almost feels like those mushrooms on my corset might not be original art,” one Instagram user wrote.
A model walks the Selkie runway during New York Fashion Week.
John Lamparski/Stringer/Getty Images
Selkie responded to the complaints via an Instagram comment, in which the brand acknowledged that AI art is “polarizing.” Still, Selkie said its founder, an artist herself, wanted to experiment.
“As an artist who enjoys technology, and seeing AI already being used by other brands in different ways, it felt important to learn this new medium and how it may or may not work for Selkie as a brand, and herself as an artist,” Selkie wrote about Gordon.
“Though the conversation around AI is constantly evolving, even from when this collection was designed a year ago, this is part of discovery, growth, and making sure that if this is the future of fashion, Selkie is ahead of the curve, not behind it,” the comment continued. “We are eager to see how this collection is received, and we will utilize customer feedback from this collection in determining how we may or may not utilize AI in the future.”
Gordon is also no stranger to using preexisting art in her fashion designs.
As she told TechCrunch in mid-January, Selkie’s famous prints are typically made using stock images and non-copyrighted art as a base for her own designs.
She told the publication this collection was made using the same process but with AI art as the initial layer instead of historic paintings, clip art, and stock images.
The rise of AI in fashion has prompted backlash against other brands and designers in the past.
In April 2023, Levi’s was widely criticized after announcing it would use AI-generated models instead of hiring real people to increase diversity in its campaigns and advertisements.
While it remains unclear how Selkie will use AI in the future, the brand seems to have moved on from the recent scandal and is continuing to post on Instagram regularly.