• Jackson Cowden
    Jackson Cowden

Australian emerging fashion designer Jackson Cowden has designed a new 10-piece haute couture range in 40 days, in collaboration with global soft drink brand Pepsi.

The 22-year-old designer created the Pepsi Pulse Collection through artificial intelligence processes. Key styles of the range include a rain set, a puffer jacket, a pant suit, a leather coat and a classic white shirt dress. 

Cowden said that the digital design technology that allowed him and his team to produce the collection in 40 days has become very familiar to him. This is in contract to traditional methods which would normally take up to nine months to complete a collection.

“Any idea still originates in thought, and is translated to pen and paper,” he said. “From there, my process is entirely digital.”

Throughout the project, Cowden and his team worked with a pattern maker and a manufacturer, and sampled through a digital fashion design application called CLO3D. 

“This meant that digital samples could be sent from designer and maker for real time alterations and fittings,” he explained. “No need for fabric wastage, shipping samples to and from, and those hours can be put back into the design and execution of the project. 

“All the digital content that is seen on the screens at the runway are adaptations of the digital samples we used to produce each of the looks. It’s a perfect way to create a world, story and characters behind each design. 

“Besides the many sleepless nights that come with such an opportunity, I couldn’t have seen the collection coming together without the use and skills I have developed in the digital domain.”

As this is a haute couture collection, Cowden said this won’t be available for sale, but he believes some of the collection will be gifted to consumers. 

Speaking on the AI element, Cowden said it is just another tool that designers can use to get their final design, which can then be translated to a team or maker. 

“I like to think of it as a new type of visual language, one that breaks down things we can’t put into words, but we can see and feel them in images,” he said.

“I see a lot of people using AI in various ways when it comes to design; there is a lot of experimentation happening at the moment. 

“From my perspective AI is not something to rely solely on. There must always be creatives expressing new ideas in order to break boundaries and progress art and life. AI will never do that for us.”

Cowden added that there is a lot of difference between the physical and digital making of a garment.

“Certainly a lot of new learnings and techniques when manipulating a piece of cloth versus thousands of simulated polygons which make up the digital fabrics,” he said. “But at the foundations, it’s still the same medium. 

“As it is now there is a separation between digital fashion design and fashion design - in the next five years there won’t be. It will all just be fashion design. 

“I’m honoured Pepsi had the foresight to back me on this and bring my vision to life in such an interesting and exciting way.”

The key pieces in the range use various elements for the final product. The two-piece rain set is a liquid metallic spray set, featuring a curved zip and panels of ribbing that lead back to the Pepsi swirl in its logo.

Meanwhile, the classic white shirt dress features three shirts shaped around the body to create a tiered repetition. The ballooned sleeves of the dress create a circular silhouette to the top half of the body, while the bottom layer of shirting drapes.

Cowden sees more and more technology slowly taking over the Australian fashion space. 

“It’s not really enough anymore to just have cool designs or garments, people want to become characters,” he said. “And to achieve that emotion and feeling in the clothes, new mediums have to be crossed. Especially with this Pepsi Pulse collection, being a trailblazer of world building, digital fashion, music and dance, there will no doubt be more to follow. 

“I’m really enjoying what [Australian fashion brand] The Injury are doing at the moment. A whole world building and characterfication of fashion. It’s allowing their audience to express themselves through a representation. To find a character that represents what they believe in and become them through fashion.

“Internationally I am a fan of Hamcus. The brand speaks for itself really. It’s something I aspire to create in the coming years.”

Pepsi’s Pulse Collection was launched at a full scale runway show this week, which included a performance by Australian singer G Flip on Sydney Harbour.

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