The Rise of CGI Models: The Future of Fashion Marketing


The future of fashion marketing has arrived with a set of virtual models. CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) models are an arsenal of make-up faces that have taken over major haute couture brands like Dior, Louis Vuitton and Balmain.

Incredibly realistic with frank facial expressions, glowing eyes, and even skin-like pore textures, these models represent the physical attributes of a living person, but are only seen through a screen.

Throwing on designer brands, these virtual models not only have a large following, but are also seen as influencers.

One of the most famous CGI influencers, Lil Miquela (@lilmiquela), has garnered over two million Instagram followers and has worked with brands such as Prada and Calvin Klein. Currently, she charges around $ 8,000 per paid Instagram post, as reported by The Cut.

TechCrunch reports that the creators of Lil Miquela even struck a $ 125 million investment deal. Since 2016, the future of virtual models has dawned with the first faces of the CGI modeling world making their mark.

Cameron-James Wilson, the creator of the first army of digitized mannequins, presented Balmain’s Pre-Fall 2018 collection with three new faces. Digitally rendered Margot, Shudu and Zhi were shown wearing pieces from the collection of the fashion house.

BBC described their appearance in an article saying, “They have the perfect angular cheekbones and oozing glamor that most could never handle,” highlighting the unattainable perfection of this rendered image.

The clothing and accessories featured in the campaign were rendered in 3D, but criticism has been raised for the digital creations taking the place of actual models.

With CGI models at the forefront of modeling, many human models fear the industry will be overwhelmed by these digitized faces.

Twitter user @ CHERRYH3AVEN wrote: “CGI influencers are the future because you can program them to do whatever you want. You don’t have to worry about scandals or beauty standards or anything. It’s erasing humanity from influencer marketing to make it a marketable medium for brands.

Tyra Banks, “America’s Next Top Model” host and model herself, weighed in on the issue, telling the BBC: “Girls work their entire careers in hopes of booking a Balmain campaign, or any campaign really.If it’s that easy to give a campaign to CGI models, what does the future of e-commerce look like to us?

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“And it’s not just about removing models, it’s also about reducing production.”

Wilson told the South China Morning Post that his digitized models help reduce waste by minimizing the carbon footprint of theft as well as minimizing the number of clothing samples.

An article by Initiated states that these role models could perpetuate even higher standards for women and negatively impact the body positivity movement. Today, models of different shapes, genders and races have challenged the modeling industry, highlighting a need for diversity and representation.

To some, it seems CGI models could be a step backwards.

Many CGI models are based on women of color, but many actual models of color are struggling to book jobs even as the fashion world slowly diversifies.

On Twitter, user @kissmemiyake said: “If it’s a white person creating black CGI models, it makes the situation 100 times worse… enjoy the image of a black girl while putting her out of work. and without opportunities… “

When Vogue brought up the concern of portraying CGI color models to Wilson, he mentioned that there isn’t a lot of diversity in the digital world right now. He said he was concerned about “representation in fashion in general” and hopes to change that with his designs.

As technology advances in the fashion industry and consumers become more familiar with CGI models, they will become the new normal.

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