In the fashion world, changes are becoming visible. In the age of technological progress and Photoshop, real models suddenly compete with virtual beauties. The digital models and influencers have a very decisive advantage: they are perfect, can wear everything, do what a customer demands and don’t talk back. Of course it is not quite that simple, because behind a virtual character there is a lot of work, a lot of costs and a life. The inventors of the new generation of models give them a life, a past and a future. Shudu Gram is one of them. The African is the first virtual supermodel who has already been hired by big labels like Balmain or Ellesse.
Shudu: The first digital supermodel
Shudu, known as one of the most beautiful models on Instagram, was created in response to the monotony of the modeling business. In 2017, British photographer Cameron Wilson broke the traditional rules of the fashion industry with his invention and, inspired by Naomi Campbell, Iman and Alek Wek, created a black beauty. Even more a South African Barbie. Shudu has markless skin, a dream figure and meets every supermodel criterion. The supermodel now has over 206,000 subscribers, among them well-known brands and companies such as Vogue, Balmain, Ellesse and many more. In the beginning, Shudu was an experiment, an innovation for which the world may not have been ready, because even as her popularity grew, people believed in her physical existence. Wilson felt confirmed in his work and began to market his creation. Before the Briton revealed to the world that Shudu only existed digitally, a label sent him a T-shirt to wear and market. But how do you put a real shirt on a virtual character? Very simple: You recreate the garment on the computer and put it on the model. Of course Wilson was now forced to explain Shudu’s virtual existence to the customer and the world.
Shudu Gram: Key data
- Shudu Gram: Key data
- First virtual supermodel
- Month of birth: End of April 2017
- Origin: Africa
- Inventor: Camaron Wilson
- 206,000 subscribers
- Shudu Gram Instagram
Meet Shudu Gram – World´s first digital supermodel
Shudu on the red carpet of the Academy Awards
Shudu Gram’s character has become more and more popular over time, so that even big brands are becoming aware of the African woman. But the inventor Cameron Wilson goes one step further. Instead of restricting Shudu’s presence to social media, he sends her to the British Academy Film Awards. A virtual character conceived on the computer is to walk down the red carpet in real life? Impossible. But that’s exactly what happened. Without further ado, Wilson created an original hologram of the model and let her interact with other Start.
- Oscar de la Renta – Jewelry line
- Pat McGrath Cosmetics campaign
- Fenty Beauty by Rihanna – Lip Gloss Mattemoiselle
- Cover for Harpers Bazaar Arabia, dressed in Lavie CK
- Ellesse campaign
- Tiffany & Co.
Shudu for Balmain: The Virtual Army
Shudu Gram is a true star on Instagram. The fashion brand Balmain also recognizes this and is launching the pre-case campaign in 2018 with her and two other virtual models, also from the hand of British designer Cameron Wilson. The virtual icons of the Balmain Army should reflect the beauty, rock style, self-confidence and power of the brand. Normally the brand works with top models such as Gigi Hadid or Kendall Jenner, but now Creative Director Olivier Rousteing is giving the traditional fashion industry the cold shoulder and creating the Virtual Army. A model trio consisting of Shudu, Zhi and Margot.
“The fashion market is very traditional, so my ideas are interesting for brands like Balmain,” says Wilson. (Source: Handelsblatt)
What makes a supermodel?
Supermodels like Eva Herzigová or Kate Moss fulfill the (external) clichés of a model in every respect. The perfect measurements, pure skin and full hair. But the supermodel as it used to exist, does not exist anymore. The demands on the model, how she has to look like, generally how she acts in the world have changed. Herzigová even goes one step further and calls the activist Greta Thunberg a supermodel. The status of a model and its definition are at a turning point. A model is no longer just an empty canvas, but a person with a voice.
“Models today receive more attention for what they are – and what they say,” said Eva Herzigová (source: Süddeutsche Zeitung)
Virtual Influencer: The future of tomorrow?
Lil Miquela, Zoe, Ella, Bermuda, Daisy Page, Shudo. What do these six people have in common? They are successful influencers and models on Instagram and Co. They are considered the new discovery in social media. But what makes them so special? They are not alive. The pixel-creatures only exist online and thus fool some people. Their whole appearance seems so real that even big fashion brands book the influencers for shootings and fashion shows.
The trend of virtual influencers is a phenomenon of the 21st century. After Facebook and Instagram came the bloggers, real people who exploit the platforms to their advantage and entertain their fans on various topics. At the latest since the advent of digital photography and Photoshop, the difference between real and fake can no longer be seen anyway. The advantage of a virtual character: He can be everything and very fast! The developers behind the virtualities create an answer to a prominent demand. In elaborate miniature work a story around the person is invented, character traits are cultivated and pixel by pixel new marketing possibilities are created. In this way, new opportunities open up for the fashion world.
- Read more about Heidi and Co. The Supermodelliga here. —LINK—
- What makes Bella, Gigi, Taylor and Haily so special? Find out in the article about the Millenialmodels. —LINK—>/li>
- Lil Miquela and Co.: digital models and influencers Read more here.
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Controversies and dangers
If people are already able to design virtual people whose fiction you can’t even look at, where are the limits and does this change influence the traditional, already critically eyed model world? Are the digital newcomer models a competitor to the real supermodels of the 90s, like Naomi Campbell or Heidi Klum, as well as the hip models of the 21st century, Gigi Hadid or Haily Bieber? But the effort of a virtual model should not be underestimated. Because behind the perfect appearance and the unmarked life are several hours of hard work. Moreover, digital influencers are not cheaper than real ones of their kind. Besides the development costs, the team behind all the steps of Shudu and Co. must not be forgotten. Italians, design specialists, marketing managers and so on. However, this development does not pose a threat to the demand for real models, says Cameron Wilson.
The word influencer is not a modern invention of marketing, but a business model that has worked for thousands of years, also known as “recommendation marketing”. A recommendation means that people (with influence) have an effect on other people through positive opinion making. People who receive the recommendation will usually stick to it, once the willingness to buy is given. The goal of successful marketing is to introduce products or services to a previously determined target group through interesting and creative content and to motivate the target group to act.
An overview of the advantages of virtual influencers
- They are immortalized, the career could take decades, even centuries
- Companies can build their own virtual models / influencers
- Managing brand image
- Messages which are to be conveyed to the target group can be better controlled
- Appearance and personality can be tailored to specific industries
- Any background can be mounted
- inexhaustible workspace
- no short term hype – seven digit financing reasons into the Tech start UP brother (Creator of Lil Miquela)
- in the future, more art figures from different industries will populate the social media
Virtual Influencer booking
Virtual influencers are becoming more and more popular, and in a few years they could possibly take over the entire fashion market. But where do I go as a label to book a digital influencer? Meanwhile there are several agencies that specialize in virtual avatars and models or influencers.
Cocaine Models is the first model agency in Europe with virtual influencers. Hip digital influencers like Ella and Zoe can be booked there. Ella is the first digital model of the agency and is in the starting blocks of an ambitious career. Two beauties followed her: Zoe and Linda. While Zoe is already running her first fashion show at the Russian Fashion Week, Ella is becoming a hip Instagram Influencrin.
- Virtual supermodels at Cocaine Models: Ella, Zoe and Linda. Click here to find out more./