Sunday , October 24 2021

Machine learning struts its stuff

AI can now design slicker sneakers than Kanye West

As someone who’s bought the same model of sneakers three times in a row (Reebok Classics with the gum sole FYI), I’ve fallen slightly behind the fashion curve. But my footwear could soon evolve from passé to trendsetting.

A new websiteflaunts thousands of unique sneakers that would make me a style trailblazer. There is one small problem, however: none of the shoes actually exist. Each is merely the product of AI’s imagination.

This Sneaker Does Not Exist
The designs are displayed on a website called This Sneaker Does Not Exist.
This Sneaker Does Not Exist

The system is the brainchild of Stan van der Vossen, an AI engineer.

Van der Vossen first trained a StyleGAN2-ADA model trained on around 50,000 images of sneakers scraped from websites.

He ensured the dataset was sufficiently voguish by adding interesting designs found on Instagram and old webshops unearthed via the Wayback Machine. Boring sneakers, meanwhile, were largely filtered out.

The model was then fine-tuned on a curated subset of sneakers in order to generate futuristic styles of sneakers.

To my (myopic) eye, some of the designs are exquisite. They’re certainly more elegant than the exorbitant monstrosities ostensibly designed by Kanye West.

You may disagree. If that’s the case, you can use the site’s sneaker editor to tweak the designs to your tastes.

I had a go myself — and was pretty proud of the results:

This Sneaker Does Not Exist
Unleash your inner Jimmy Choo.
This Sneaker Does Not Exist

Now I just need a cobbler to bring my design to life and I’ll be making hipsters weep with envy.

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