While fashion trends have made significant contributions to the ‘restyling’ of the industry, technology and lately virtual reality, are playing instrumental roles in reorientating the fashion world.

Video editing software used to create computer-generated images (CGI) have vastly improved the way clothes are created. Designers can also create and highlight patterns impossible to capture in the past, enhancing accuracy is cuts and sizes. But while an era celebrating avant-garde fashion has been made possible by tech, another stakeholder is currently being affected.

Lately, a new batch of supermodels have stormed the world of fashion. They are rocking the latest designer clothes, stealing hearts on social media and voicing out their opinions on critical issues. It will, however, surprise you to know that they aren’t real. Yep, it’s hard to believe, but these models won’t be gracing the runway anytime soon. They are computer generated images created for a variety of reasons- could be for artistic expression, cost reduction or to serve as a muse for fashion brands.

Shudu, the model behind the page @shudu.gram is being called one of the most beautiful models on Instagram. Although new on to the scene, Shudu has caused a fair amount of controversy, hinging around the fact that she’s not actually real, but a project from photographer Cameron James-Wilson.

If you’ve slid into the DMs of models like Shudu, nobody is judging. After all, humans barely look real on social media platforms. Filters are used to make blackheads or cellulite ‘disappear’ or create the perfect hip to waist ratio.

The question on everyone’s lips is can they replace models? What’s the point of having them around?

Well, here a few answers:

 Celebration of diversity
Shudu gram- an “ultra-realistic” CGI designed to be a South African woman in her late twenties is considered to be the world’s first digital supermodel. The creator, Cameron James Wilson is a photographer keen to address the lack of ethnic diversity, especially in the 3D world.
The creation of Shudu is one of many strategies Wilson will use to ensure fashion industries, games developers and 3D designers are equipped to create more diverse characters.

 Tools to build a brand personality
Although they’re not human, some of the avatars have served as virtual influencers. Lil Miquela, a CGI presented as 19-year-old Brazilian American girl living in Los Angeles is often depicted modelling clothes outside clubs or at parties. She constantly expresses her opinions on social media with different hashtags and has even released her own music on Spotify. Companies who feel like her image captures their brand’s essence take advantage of her online presence.

Provide more money and opportunities for real-life models
There is a school of thought certain the CGI models could reduce the income generated by models, but certain 3D developers believe it could increase their earning potential. For instance, a scan of a model’s body to create a CGI of his/ her figure can help book multiple jobs. With this option on the table, models can decide to be physically present only when a larger amount is offered.

There’s also the case of models constantly having to follow strict diets and exercise routines. With the advent of CGI, models can still get jobs even when they are considered to have passed their prime (the industry can be brutal).

Enhance the consumer’s shopping experience
Some of us are scared to purchase clothes online simply because we’re scared it won’t fit. Luckily, tech companies can predict how your clothes will fit by creating a 3D model of your figure when you upload a picture or provide your height and weight on the website. Virtual fitting can boost online sales by eliminating the customer’s doubts.

The verdict? It’ll be hard for the new crop of CGI models to replace real ones. The work involved in creating them along with a 3D rendition of the clothes to be modelled is time-consuming. Considering the overwhelming amount of technical logistics needed, it’s not a viable option to replace humans. Models and consumers can, however, enjoy the numerous benefits offered by the emergence of this trend.