CRASHING THE SYSTEM: How AI will transform fashion — as well as pretty much every other sector — is a matter of great discussion worldwide. But executives at the Johannesburg’s Sandton City Shopping Center in South Africa are exploring just that with a new tech-driven ad campaign.

The digital campaign plays off last year’s “City of Icons” campaign, which highlighted tried-and-true wardrobe staples like the Little Black Dress, sunglasses, trenchcoat, denim, hoodie, suit, shoes, sunglasses handbags and lipstick. This time around there are AI-generated iterations of these items and other styles meant to magnify the campaign’s futurism theme.

The images juxtapose a model wearing a specific item such as a hoodie with one created using a Midjourney Bot on Discord. This a generative artificial intelligence program is essentially text-to-image AI. By submitting a text prompt, the bot then generates what is described as “a beautiful piece of art” within 60 seconds.

The campaign is meant to encourage Sandton City shoppers to envision not only potential yet-to-be incarnations of the garments, but also to buy existing versions in the shopping center’s many stores. The images and an explanatory video play up the power of possibilities when technology and classics collide.

The retail, office and leisure space houses more than 300 international and local brands. Visitors will find the AI-powered campaign on screens throughout the complex’s shopping center, which is the first six-star green-star shopping mall in the African continent to receive that rating by the Green Building Council of South Africa.

To further spread the word vis social media, Sandton City has recruited “friends of the brand” such as foodie, fashion and lifestyle specialist Naqiyah Mayat; actor Kyle Clark; fashion and beauty content creator Zoe Msutwana, and Victoria Duckitt. Other personalities with some sway in fashion, beauty, accessories and technology are also pitching in — Nafisa Akabor, Angie Detsikas, Europa Art Group’s director and buyer Melina Lambrakis, and Dior South Africa’s general manager Armine Anders.


The Little Black Dress is reimagined in the new campaign.

Image Courtesy Sandton City

Consumers can see the imagined staples and also learn how the project was brought to a life in a behind-the-scenes six-part series that explains how the AI was leveraged by tuning in on Sandton City’s social media. There, they will also be clued in to how the shopping center’s retailers are using AI to improve and personalize their retail offerings.

In keeping with the forward-spinning outlook, an AI model, ChatGPT, was leveraged to script Sandton City’s social media component of the campaign, and an AI text to speech generator enhanced the voiceover recorded for the videos. By leveraging this iconic technology, the ambition is to enhance its relationships with visitors to the centre, and play a role in the future of their imagination.


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