Are we ready to embrace the rise of CGI Models?

A new craze in the fashion industry is developing that involves the use of computer-generated models in advertising.

In 2017, French luxury fashion house, Balmain, worked with British photographer Cameron James-Wilson, to create the first digital supermodel named Shudu, and since then many more have been created.

Shudu, who has her own Instagram account with over 147K followers, has been featured by Rihanna’s makeup brand Fenty Beauty, has been the centre of Balmain’s major fashion campaign and has featured in Vogue Australia’s September issue.

Despite the rising success of the CGI model, many people are not convinced. This includes photographer Manny Roman, who has raised his concerns about these models and how it could affect people’s self-esteem, commenting “while I do admire the campaign’s digital art, I don’t like the non-realistic message that Balmain is sending out to society.”

In an industry that is already so competitive, it could become even more difficult for models to enter the scene. Not only that, but the fashion industry has been critiqued numerous times – before the creation of these perfectly curated beings – for creating an “ideal” man or woman that is nearly impossible for us mere mortals to eminate.

The concern isn’t only focussed on the fashion industry, but also on social media where CGI models are becoming influencers.

Since, posting her first selfie back in April 2016, digitally created Instagrammer, Lil Miquela has amassed 1.4 million followers, has collaborated with famous brands such as Prada and has even featured in an editorial in this year’s the September issue of Vogue.

With many of us consumed with our social media accounts and hoping to achieve a similar Instagramable life, it can be difficult to try and live up to the rise of CGI models.

Even if these avatars aren’t created with the intention to harm, there are many people who believe that they are real. Many developers behind these 3D influencers also treat social media platforms like people in real-life do, by utilising sponsored posts and campaign images to raise their profiles and bank balances.

Despite the numerous concerns raised, Wilson, who created Shudu, believes that CGI could become a benefit to real-life models, stating that there would be the potential for real-life models to make very detailed scans of themselves. These scans could then be sent on multiple jobs around the globe without the model having to be there in the flesh. He also stated that the people who learn how to create these CGI models could have the potential to enter the fashion industry, which might have never been a possibility for them before.

He also said, “once someone is scanned, they are, in a way, immortalised. A person’s career could last decades, centuries.”

But this begs the question, is the world ready for immortalised beings, and what are the ethical implications of it all?

Let us know what your thoughts are in the comments below.

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