Interview with Anna Franziska Michel, CEO & founder of YOONA Technology Interview with Anna Franziska Michel, CEO & founder of YOONA Technology
YOONA Tech is a scalable B2B software solution based on artificial intelligence. The algorithm uses, for example, personal sports data from fitness trackers to create individual designs based on them. In an interview, the founder and CEO of YOONA Technology told us how this innovative idea was born and what we can expect at her show on January 16th and at the YOONA Tech workshop and panel discussion on January 17th.
In 2015 you founded the NOETIA label, which creates designs using artificial intelligence. How did you come up with this innovative idea?
Just translating my creativity into fashion designs was not enough for me. After a short time it seemed pointless to simply produce more clothes. All in all, the clothing industry creates so much garbage in small and large fashion companies (100 billion tons of newly produced garments worldwide), or the consumer simply throws his clothes away after wearing them for a short time (4.3 billion tons worldwide) because they are not valued at all. I was looking for a team, and together with the Department of Business Informatics at the HTW a research group on artificial intelligence in the fashion industry. It was here that I set the basic building blocks for YOONA technology and yooneeque. Neural networks can be perfectly used to shorten and simplify design processes. I believe that with new disruptive technologies in fashion a lot can be changed and, above all, more sustainability can be achieved.
Could you describe in more detail how YOONA technology works?
Artificial intelligence performs a data analysis and creates new data based on the previous analysis. The YOONA algorithm is trained with design data, i.e. technical drawings, prints, moodboards or cut pieces. Then the YOONA generator starts to create new designs. The YOONA discriminator recognizes exactly which designs are in the style of the material which has been learned. Then hundreds of new designs can be created in a few seconds. At yooneeque, YOONA technology works with my own design material that I have created as a designer.
Since January 2018 you have regularly been showing your latest collections at Berlin Fashion Week. In January 2020 there will be another Yoona Tech show. What will it look like and what are you looking forward to most?
Since January 2018 I have been regularly showing the latest results of my work at Berlin Fashion Week. The designs have been shown on avatars since July 2019, and in January 2020 it will also be possible to dive into a virtual yooneeque world with virtual reality glasses. I always look forward to presenting our work in a public setting. My vision is the holistic digitization of the design process. The path is the goal - every step in this direction means a step towards changing the fashion industry. I also always look forward to the get-together after the show. There are always many questions to answer.
Your collection will be presented by digital avatars, is that right? How exactly does this work?
At the moment we are selecting existing avatars. The cuts of the designs are assembled and the avatar is dressed digitally. The garment is already finished. We can see what the design and the cut look like on the person and don't have to create prototypes first.
I think that many presentations or shows will look like this in the future. The technology will continue to evolve, so that by incorporating the various possibilities such as VR and AR it will soon be possible to reproduce the designs realistically. We always show two realized designs that you can touch. In future, something simply has to change in the infinite production of clothing. And a step in this direction can also be taken with the change of shows.
2019 was a successful year for you. You were among other things a finalist at the Digital Female Leader Award in the Innovation category and at the Lucky Strike Award. Would you say that the fashion location Berlin is partly responsible for your career?
In 2019, I was selected by the British Embassy as Germany's delegate for Women in Technology to participate in London Tech Week, by the TechCode Innovation Center to participate in Nanjing Tech Week, and by #WER - Women Entrepreneur Roadshow - to participate in the programme. We are also pleased to say that we have been nominated by the Media Tech Hub Potsdam to launch the program in the Accelerator as of January 2018. And of course I'm thrilled to have won the Digital Female Leader Award in the Innovation category and to be honoured with a special distinction by the Lucky Strike Award. But most of all, we are delighted that we have started working with companies like Ernstings Family, Mey and Vaude. Berlin is the start-up capital of Germany. In 2019, the most start-ups nationwide were founded here. As a fashion location, Berlin creates opportunities for further development. I have such a great network in Berlin. This symbiosis is unique. My university (HTW Berlin) also supports me a lot. But what is very important, what drives me and never lets me stop, is my vision in which I firmly believe. With a holistic digitization of the design process we can create a great impact, more efficiency and customer focus in the fashion industry.
We are looking forward to our Fashion Week events in January 2020, which will not only include the show, on January 16th at 7 pm, but also a workshop, on the 17th at 12 noon, and a panel discussion, on the 17th at 7 pm. I am conducting the panel discussion for the tenth time during Fashion Week. I have put a great YOONA team together, and I hope that we will continue to cooperate so well in 2020 and that our team will grow with more great people who want to change things. And I am also looking forward to seeing the YOONA community get bigger and that we will change the future together.