“Kolay” is the Turkish word for “easy” and that’s what we do at KolAi.
Using state-of-the-art artificial intelligence, we make denim laser design easy.
Why Lasers? Why KolAi?
Lasers are the future of denim finishing. They greatly reduce the amount of waste
and hazardous by-products required to make a pair of jeans. However, designing a laser
file is difficult to get right. It takes a lot of time and skill with Photoshop,
along with plenty of trial-and-error to create laser patterns that give a natural-looking finish.
That’s where our patent-pending technology comes in.
Our system automatically creates a natural-looking laser pattern from an image of an existing pair of jeans in seconds.
How It Works
Suppose you want to mimic the wear pattern of a pair of vintage jeans.
An inexperienced laser designer might simply take a photo of the jeans, color-invert and grayscale the photo, then do basic contrast adjustments to create their laser file. However, this will result in a flat, artificial-looking finished product – a garment that looks like it was created with a laser which is not what you want.
A skilled laser designer on the other hand will know how to do touch-ups in Photoshop – e.g., tracing the whiskers, chevrons and honeycombs by hand – to make the laser pattern look realistic, like an actual vintage garment when applied to denim.
In other words, there is a complex relationship between natural-looking finished jeans and the laser files used to create them. Skilled designers have an intuitive understanding of this relationship.
We trained a deep neural network to learn this relationship. Our network analyzed thousands of examples of good laser design and ultimately learned how to translate an image of a vintage garment into a natural-looking laser pattern the same way a skilled designer would.
Of course, our system isn’t perfect. In beta-testing, users said the output was 80-90% of the way there, but the touch up was easy and having such a good starting point saved 80-90% of their time.
KolAi was founded in 2021 with a singular purpose: Create a software tool that makes the denim development and manufacturing process easier, more accessible and faster. Since then we have developed our software, patented our AI technology, and launched a web-based interface to make our tool available worldwide.
But really, this product has been a long time in the making.
Kyle and Aydin first met in 2015, at a laundry that was adjacent to the offices of 7 For All Mankind. Kyle was there as part of a presentation on innovation for the 7FAM leadership team. Aydin was head of laser development at the laundry.
By this time, Aydin already had 15+ years of experience in the denim laser industry. He started his career with Laser Systems Technology – one of the first laser companies in the world focusing on apparel – building and fixing the lasers. But, as a naturally creative person, he gradually transitioned to creating laser designs for denim.
Kyle didn’t know it at the time, but he would spend the better part of the next 5 years learning about and innovating with laser denim design. He worked for Lee and Wrangler Jeans on transformational innovation and helped develop new applications for laser, including denim finishing designed to visually contour the body – the “Body Optix” line that became popular for Lee in Asia – like makeup is used to contour the face.
Jack and Kyle met in graduate school (both are PhD’s in cognitive science) and Jack ended up working for VF Corporation on data analytics and shopper insights. He ran huge, multi-store experiments for Vans and The North Face and became well acquainted with big data and machine learning.
Working so much at laundries with laser designers, Kyle saw how slow and painstaking the process could be and thought there must be a way artificial intelligence could be used to speed things up. He kicked around ideas with Aydin and Jack (and other colleagues) for years, but it wasn’t until 2021 that they put in a concerted effort to build something and KolAi was born.
After more than a year of work, we built a tool fusing Aydin’s laser design experience with the latest advances in machine learning and we are proud of our final product.
Contact us if you’d like to try it out.
Kyle Stephens, PhD
CEO and President
Kyle worked on Transformational Innovation for Lee and Wrangler Jeans from 2016-2020. He received laser training from both Jeanologia in Spain and VAV Technologies in Turkey and regularly traveled to factories around the world to oversee innovative developments with laser finishing.
Aydin Tuna Palabiyikoglu
COO and Vice President
Aydin is a denim developer with extensive knowledge in wet and dry garment processing. He has development experience from Turkey, India, and the United States, and has worked on laser finishing of denim for over 20 years.
Jack Payne, PhD
Jack is a cognitive scientist with extensive experience in Machine Learning and Data Science. He worked in Shopper Insights for VF Corporation from 2016-2020, where he coordinated and analyzed multinational-scale research projects advancing the science of retail design.