AI-Generated Fashion Models: A Glimpse into the Future of the Runway?

AI-Generated Fashion Models

These virtual muses are redefining beauty standards and reimagining what it means to be a fashion icon.

The fashion industry, a realm always on the brink of the next big thing, now buzzes with a novel trend that blurs the line between silicon and silk: AI-generated fashion models. These AI-generated models are the fashion industry’s latest obsession, challenging every long-standing norm about modeling. In this article, we dive into the fascinating universe of AI influencers and explore how they’re reshaping the future of fashion, one pixel at a time

Levi’s embraces digital diversity with Lalaland.ai

Levi's embraces digital diversity with Lalaland.ai
Levi Strauss & Co. is partnering with Lalaland.ai to introduce AI models to showcase the denim giant’s clothes.

In March 2023, denim giant Levi Strauss & Co. unveiled a groundbreaking partnership with digital fashion studio Lalaland.ai, which is known for crafting lifelike AI-generated fashion models. This collaboration marks a significant step in making fashion more inclusive and relatable. The partnership will introduce hyperrealistic models representing diverse body types, ages, sizes and ethnicities to showcase Levi’s apparel. 

By featuring digital models that mirror real consumers, Levi’s is addressing a major pain point—the inability of many shoppers to visualize how clothes drape on bodies like their own. Lalaland.ai’s humanlike avatars will enable the brand to deliver an inclusive digital try-on experience and resonate with a broader ​​demographic. 

Vogue ventures into AI-generated imagery

Vogue Singapore via Instagram

Traditionally, magazine covers are graced by the familiar faces of actors and celebrities, but Vogue Singapore broke new ground with its March 2023 issue. For the first time in the history of fashion publications, the magazine featured an AI model on its cover, a pioneering move led by the new editor-in-chief, Desmond Lim.

In collaboration with Varun Gupta, Creative Director of Indian content agency We Create Films, Vogue Singapore utilized AI technology such as Midjourney and DALL-E. These tools are at the forefront of AI innovation, capable of translating complex textual descriptions into highly detailed, lifelike images. 

Using these AI tools, Vogue Singapore’s team created three unique AI-generated covers, with each celebrating the beauty and cultural heritage of South Asia, infusing a fresh and diverse perspective into the magazine. This not only streamlined the creative process but also opened up new avenues for artistic expression in fashion, showcasing how AI can be a powerful tool in redefining traditional industry practices.

Vogue Singapore’s innovative use of AI models was mirrored by Vogue Brasil in their March issue, which presented six different AI-generated covers, brought to life with the assistance of photographer Zee Nunes.

Revolutionizing photoshoots with virtual models for hire

Deep Agency, an AI photo studio and modeling agency founded by Danny Postma.

Say goodbye to the hefty costs of elaborate photoshoots! In a bold move that is shaking up the traditional photoshoot paradigm, Dutch entrepreneur Danny Postma has launched Deep Agency, an “AI photo studio and modeling agency” that rents out virtual models powered by art-generating AI.  

This innovative platform leverages sophisticated AI like DALL-E 2 to transform descriptions into lifelike images, offering global access to customizable photo sessions. Users can orchestrate their virtual photoshoots by choosing poses and detailing actions for their AI models, such as “a woman in a hat and white t-shirt reading a book”, all for an introductory rate of US$29 per month.

While Deep Agency’s current model lineup doesn’t support product placement, denying clients the chance to display apparel or goods, Postma has indicated plans to expand the service’s capabilities. He has expressed his intent to enhance the platform with product placement features on Twitter, potentially revolutionizing how brands conduct photoshoots and engage with digital marketing.

Taji, a virtual model generator launched by Alibaba in 2020.

Another similar tool is Taji, which was launched by the Chinese tech giant Alibaba in 2020. With this tool, users can upload product photos and choose from 100 digital models to feature their products. According to Alibaba, by the end of 2022, Taji had been used by over 29,000 sellers to create more than 1.6 million AI-generated images. This tool exemplifies how AI is democratizing fashion advertising, enabling sellers of all sizes to create high-quality, diverse visual content without the overhead costs of traditional photoshoots.

The digital divas: Fashion-forward AI influencers

Lil Miquela via Instagram

Step into a world where fashion meets the future, and say hello to Lil Miquela and Shudu Gram. They aren’t your run-of-the-mill fashion stars; they’re the AI influencers making waves in a universe of pixels and posts.

Lil Miquela, a Brazilian-American virtual model, is making a significant impact in the fashion world. With nearly three million Instagram followers, her influence spans various luxury brand campaigns and even the music industry. Notably, her collaborations include working alongside supermodel Bella Hadid, featuring in high-profile campaigns for prestigious brands like Prada and Burberry. She even released a hit single at the Lollapalooza Festival. 

As a 19-year-old CGI-created character, she represents the fusion of art and technology, where computer-generated imagery brings to life a personality that resonates with millions.

Shudu Gram via Instagram
Shudu Gram via Instagram

On the other hand, Shudu Gram, known as the world’s first digital supermodel, boasts an impressive Instagram following of over 240,000. Her rise to fame was marked by her promotion of Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty brand, where she was featured “wearing” the line’s lipstick. Like Lil Miquela, Shudu Gram is brought to life through the use of CGI and 3D imaging. This cutting-edge approach to model creation not only showcases the possibilities in digital design but also highlights how AI influencers are becoming integral to the fashion industry’s narrative, introducing a new era of digital fashion influence. 

The AI debate: Ethical fashion or faux diversity?

The rise of AI influencers and the employment of AI models mark an innovative era in fashion. However, it simultaneously opens the floor to a critical debate on ethical fashion and the authenticity of diversity

Critics argued that using these models instead of hiring real people from diverse backgrounds was a cosmetic band-aid for diversity, side-stepping deeper industry issues. Moreover, this practice may potentially limit opportunities for real individuals, perpetuating systemic racism and lack of authentic representation within the industry. 

As fashion continues to embrace AI, it’s imperative for the industry to balance this technological adoption with a commitment to real human diversity. The use of AI models should complement, not replace, the genuine representation of diverse individuals. It is a tremendous challenge for the fashion industry to navigate this new terrain responsibly, ensuring that the allure of AI does not eclipse the crucial importance of authentic diversity and opportunity in fashion.

In conclusion, as AI-generated fashion models become more prevalent, the fashion industry is poised at the edge of a new frontier. This trend represents not just a technological advancement but a broader cultural shift. How the industry responds and adapts to these changes will shape the future of fashion, balancing the excitement of innovation with the core values that have always defined this vibrant and ever-changing field.

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Header image courtesy of Pexels

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