Vol. 1 No. 1 (2023)

Ethical Implications in AI-Powered Trend Research Platforms

Victoria Rodriguez Schon
Politecnico di Milano
Chiara Colombi
Politecnico di Milano

Published 2023-07-31


  • AI,
  • Pluralisation,
  • Fashion,
  • Ethics of Technology

How to Cite

Rodriguez Schon, V., & Colombi, C. (2023). Ethical Implications in AI-Powered Trend Research Platforms. Fashion Highlight, 1(1), 50–59. https://doi.org/10.36253/fh-2261


The manuscript discusses the limitations of applying AI in trend research platforms for the fashion system. This analysis intends to take a position within the emergent research topic of AI. Considering its ethical implications, we explore the opportunities of implementing AI to support trend research from a design-oriented perspective, realising the relationship between fashion and trends, which is central in shaping the future. Examples of AI-powered trend platforms evidence how valuable their insights are for strategic innovation. The analysis focuses on platforms that provide tailored services using AI and expert interpretation. Virtue ethics of technology serves as a useful framework to examine this topic, proposing a new set of virtues that respond to technology’s shaping of behaviour and its disadvantages. The risks of applying AI are many-fold; the consequences perpetuate power imbalances and social inequality. Proposing guidelines for enabling a responsible practice explores how to forge ethics into AI, creating a pluralised practice.


  1. Blaszczyk R. & Wubs, B. (2018). Beyond the crystal ball. The rationale behind color and trend forecasting. In: Blaszczyk R. & Wubs, B. (eds.) The Fashion Forecasters. A hidden history of color and trend prediction. Bloomsbury.
  2. Buolamwini, J., & Gebru, T. (2018). Gender shades: intersectional accuracy disparities in commercial gender classification. In Conference on fairness, accountability and transparency, pp 77–91.
  3. Celi, M., & Colombi, C. (2017). Innovating Trend Research Practice Through A Data Driven-approach: A Blended Experience Within The Design Field. Iceri2017 Proceedings, 6580–6588.
  4. Celi, M., & Colombi, C. (2020). Trends as Future Prompts in the Anticipatory Design Practice. Futures, 121, 102564. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2020.102564
  5. Celi, M., & Rudkin, J. (2016). Drawing food trends: Design potential in shaping food future. Futures, 83, 112–121. DOI: 10.1016/j.futures.2016.05.002
  6. Colombi, C. (2011). Design research in Fashion: From trends to design directions. 2(1), 11.
  7. Colombi & Zindato (2019) Design Scenarios and Anticipation. In Poli, R. (Ed.). (2019). Handbook of Anticipation: Theoretical and Applied Aspects of the Use of Future in Decision Making. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91554-8
  8. Deleuze, G., & Guattari, F. (1987). A thousand plateaus: Capitalism and schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
  9. Donzé, P.Y. (2018) Fashion prediction and the transformation of the japanese textile industry. The role of kentaro kawasaki, 1950 1990. In: Blaszczyk R. & Wubs, B. (eds.) The Fashion Forecasters. A hidden history of color and trend prediction. Bloomsbury.
  10. Edited, (2023). Global market data across billions of products. Retrieved at: https://edited.com/products/market-intelligence/
  11. Escobar, A. (2018). Designs for the pluriverse: Radical interdependence, autonomy, and the making of worlds. Duke University press.
  12. Fuller, T., & Loogma, K. (2009). Constructing futures: A social constructionist perspective on foresight methodology. Futures, 41(2), 71–79. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.futures.2008.07.039
  13. Foucault, M. (1988). Technologies of the Self. In L. H. Martin, H. Gutman, & P. H. Hutton (Eds.), Technologies of the Self: A Seminar with Michel Foucault. University of Massachusetts Press.
  14. Gebru, T. (2020). Race and Gender. In Dubber, M.D., Pasquale, F. & Das, S. (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of ethics of AI. Oxford University Press.
  15. Gray, M.L., & Suri, S. (2019). Ghost work: how to stop silicon valley from building a new global underclass. Eamon Dolan Books.
  16. Hesmondhalgh, D. (2007). The Cultural Industries. Sage.
  17. Holland, G. & Jones, R. (2017). Fashion Trend Forecasting. Laurence King.
  18. Jansen, M. A. (2020). Fashion and the Phantasmagoria of Modernity: An Introduction to Decolonial Fashion Discourse. Fashion Theory, 24(6), 815–836. https://doi. org/10.1080/1362704X.2020.1802098
  19. Jonas, H. (1979). Toward a Philosophy of Technology. The Hastings Center Report, 9(1), 34–43. DOI:10.2307/3561700
  20. Joyce, K., Smith-Doerr, L., Alegria, S., Bell, S., Cruz, T., Hoffman, S. G., Noble, S. U., & Shestakofsky, B. (2021). Toward a Sociology of Artificial Intelligence: A Call for Research on Inequalities and Structural Change. Socius, 7, DOI: 10.1177/2378023121999581
  21. Luján Escalante, M., Moffat, L., Harrison, L.,and Kuh, V.(2021) Dancing with the Troubles of AI. In Leitão, R.M., Men, I., Noel, L-A., Lima, J., Meninato, T. (Eds.), Pivot 2021: Dismantling/Reassembling, 22-23 July, Toronto, Canada. DOI:10.21606/pluriversal.2021.0037
  22. Marenko, B., & Brassett, J. (2015). Deleuze and Design. Edinburgh University Press. DOI: 10.1515/9780748691555
  23. Miller, R. (2006). From trends to futures literacy: Reclaiming the future. Centre for Strategic Education.
  24. Mohamed, S., Png, M.-T., & Isaac, W. (2020). Decolonial AI: Decolonial Theory as Sociotechnical Foresight in Artificial Intelligence. Philosophy & Technology, 33(4), 659–684. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13347-020-00405-8
  25. Naisbitt, J. (1982). Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives. Warner Books.
  26. Nussbaum, B. (2010, June 7). Is Humanitarian Design the New Imperialism? [Fastcompany]. Retrieved January 16, 2023, from https://www.fastcompany.com/1661859/is-humanitarian-design-thenew-imperialism.
  27. O’Neill, C. (2016). Weapons of Math Destruction. Penguin Random House.
  28. OpenAI, (2023). Transforming work and creativity with AI. Retrieved at: https://openai.com/product
  29. Poli, R. (Ed.). (2019). Handbook of Anticipation: Theoretical and Applied Aspects of the Use of Future in Decision Making. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-91554-8
  30. Powers, D. (2019). On Trend. The business of forecasting the future. University of Illinois Press.
  31. Raymond, M. (2019). The Trend Forecaster’s Handbook (2nd ed.). Laurence King Publishing.
  32. Rogers, E.M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). Free Press.
  33. Schultz, T., Abdulla, D., Ansari, A., Canlı, E., Keshavarz, M., Kiem, M., Martins, L. P. de O., & J.S. Vieira de Oliveira, P. (2018). What Is at Stake with Decolonizing Design? A Roundtable. Design and Culture, 10(1), 81–101. DOI: 10.1080/17547075.2018.1434368
  34. Schon, D.A. (1983). The Reflexive Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. Basic Books.
  35. Tlostanova, M. (2017). On decolonising design. Design Philosophy Papers, 15(1), 51–61. DOI: 10.1080/14487136.2017.1301017
  36. Tuin van Der, I., & Nocek, A. J. (2019). New Concepts for Materialism: Introduction. Philosophy Today, 63(4), 815–822. DOI: 10.5840/philtoday2019634294
  37. Vallor, S. (2016). Technology and the Virtues. Oxford University Press.
  38. Vejlgaard, H. (2008). Anatomy of a trend. McGraw-Hill.
  39. Voros, J. (2015). On examining Preposterous! futures – The Voroscope. Retrieved at https://thevoroscope.com/2015/12/28/onexamining-preposterous-futures/.
  40. Webb, A. & Euchner, J. (2020) Which AI Future Will We Choose?, Research-Technology Management, 63:6, 15-21, DOI: 10.1080/08956308.2020.1813503
  41. Winner, L. (1980). Do Artifacts Have Politics? Daedalus, 109(1), 121–136.
  42. Zuboff, S. (2019). The age of surveillance capitalism: the fight for a human future at the new frontier of power. London: Profile Books.