In an effort to be more inclusive, major fashion brands are utilizing computer-generated models in their marketing campaigns. In addition to expanding the number of models featured, the introduction of AI models aims to represent people of various body types, ages, sizes, races, and ethnicities to produce a “more personal and inclusive shopping experience.”
According to The Guardian, Levi’s was among the first brands to have AI-generated models star in a campaign. After teaming up with LaLaLand.ai, which builds AI models of every body type, age, size, and skin tone in under five minutes, the brand developed its first digital rendering of a human last spring.
After announcing the model’s debut at Business of Fashion in March, Levi’s global head of digital and emerging technology strategy, Amy Gershkoff Bolles, vowed that “AI models will not completely replace the humans, but will serve as a ‘supplement’ intended to aid in the brand’s representation of various sizes, skin tones and ages.”
“When we say supplement, we mean the AI-generated models can be used in conjunction with human models to potentially expand the number of models per product,” said a spokesperson for Levi’s. “We are excited about a world where consumers can see more models on our site, potentially reflecting any combination of body type, age, size, race and ethnicity, enabling us to create a more personal and inclusive shopping experience.”
To allow customers to see clothing on “people who resemble them,” Levi’s aim in employing AI models is to shift from its current format of featuring an item on one model in the online store to instead seeing an article of clothing on multiple models.
“This AI technology can potentially assist us by supplementing models and unlocking a future where we can enable customers to see our products on more models that look like themselves, creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience,” announced Levi’s.
The denim company’s new diversity efforts received mixed reactions from many. While some, like LaLaLand.ai founder Michael Musandu, who developed the software after struggling “to find models who look like him,” believe AI models are a good step toward representation, others questioned why brands don’t just hire more diverse models.
“It is not feasible for brands to shoot nine models for every single product they sell because they’re not just hiring models, they’re hiring photographers, hair stylists and makeup artists for those models,” responded Musandu. “AI-generated images don’t need glam squads, so brands can cut costs they would spend on set by using fake avatars.”
Sharing Musandu’s sentiments, a spokesperson for Levi’s added: “The models Levi’s hires are already diverse, and this will continue to be a priority for us. Over the past year, we’ve been focused on ensuring that those working on the content both in front and behind the camera are reflective of our broad consumer base.”
Notably, news of Levi’s introduction of AI models comes shortly after the company has taken steps to minimize costs. According to The Verge, last year, Levi’s laid off 800 employees and, in 2020, eliminated 700 roles within the company.