If Shakespeare wrote The Matrix, all the world would be a screen, and all the men and women merely gamers. Most online images now are posted using complex filters. With advances in technology and beauty products, our visions and versions of Self causally blur the line between fantasy and reality. In the quest for the ultimate cool, there is a new group of influencers rocking the fashion industry. “A change-seeking robot”. “The world’s first digital supermodel.” “Digital character, activist, vegan.” These opinionated, style-savvy avatars are curating our newsfeed powered by human likes and shares. Artificial intelligence never looked so beautiful.
Meet Lil Miquela. Since her debut in 2016, she has gained over two million followers and scored multiple endorsements from Ugg to Balenciaga. She also wants you to vote. Lil Miquela is a marketing pioneer akin to Paris Hilton, but for the Tech Age of Influence. Data suggests virtual personas outperform human influencers in most engagement categories across social media. We follow storylines as if in an animated series or a pro wrestling saga. Brands are embracing an opportunity to diversity their portfolio while minimizing risks of controversy. When a fast food corporation (looking at you, KFC) jumps on the bandwagon, the trend must have gone mainstream globally. The battle against bots and fake news is getting a fashionable makeover as we speak.
In the post-coronavirus reality of limited or inaccessible travel, the digital modeling domain is set to expand. In part, it is a practical question of easier logistics and simpler labor agreements. Avatars are “available” 24/7 worldwide. Pressed for creativity and efficiency in a time of pandemic, the fashion world is shifting gears online. Recent fashion weeks in Shanghai, Moscow and Helsinki have experimented with providing an all-digital experience for their audiences and buyers which resulted in record viewership and strong sales. Cameron-James Wilson, the mastermind behind CGI-superstars Shudu and Koffi, has launched the digital-only talent agency. The avatars are here to stay. There is also the power of expressing new ideas in novel ways. Move over, wizards and superheroes! The next fashion generation is speaking itself into existence virtually.
Here are 12 most digital influencers to follow from around the world:
Liam Nikuro (Japan)
He is into meditation, music, and fitness (with occasional fast food cravings). He mixes traditional Japanese style with latest streetwear. During the pandemic, Liam spoke out against discrimination targeting Asian communities. “Virtual humans stay home too!” Now, that’s solidarity.
Serah Reikka (France)
This purple-haired model rose to fame starring in a sci-fi short Beyond Polaris featuring a cameo from Elon Musk himself. She is currently pursuing several creative projects while supporting herself through modeling gigs, selling canvas prints of her artwork, and running a Patreon for fans.
Aliona Pole (Russia)
She was born virtual. Popularity of this Russian artist and designer is growing thanks to her progressive social ideas and her support for domestic fashion brands. Aliona had become a cultural fixture at live shows throughout Moscow; and check out her debut of her own collection at the virtual edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia. FYI, her current boyfriend is from Siberia, naturally.
She lives to travel: ancient sites, hottest clubs, remote beaches. It’s a mission to remind everyone that Bali is just one of 17,000 islands in Indonesia. Her best friend/alter ego Zeline helps her run a modest fashion store catering to the style needs of the world’s largest Muslim community.
Zoe Dvir (Israel)
She is an animals’ rights advocate and a veggie enthusiast! From the rooftops of Tel-Aviv (a must-visit city with a thriving fashion scene) to behind-the-scenes at her own art studio, Zoe takes us everywhere. She recently had a coronavirus scare, but it turned out to be just a flu. Phew!
Lu do Magalu (Brazil)
One of the “oldest” virtual celebrities, Lu was first introduced to the Brazilian people in 2009. She has since become a beloved and trusted domestic icon with expertise in home cleaning, family cooking, and affordable beauty care. Always on a strict budget, Lu is now worth millions.
Lila Ziyagil (Turkey)
This Turkish influencer likes to delight herself with real homemade desserts. Istanbul is a major historic crossroad of eastern and western style, so you can expect some eclectic fashion choices. “Verify you are not a robot” headline sets a tongue-in-cheek tone for the whole experience.
German girls have two academic role models. Angela Merkel studied quantum chemistry. Ruby excels at economics. She is known both for her quirky outfits and her real online tutoring. It is not surprising since “Smart Style” has been the ethos of Mercedes Benz global fashion platform, too.
He is a young virtual sex symbol who stays in shape “by being a robot”. Notoriety is street currency in the City of Angels, so it helps to count the Lil Miquela as your “homie”. Blawko was into face masks from inception and before the lockdowns. Sometimes A.I. gets ahead of its own time.
Kim Zulu (South Africa)
This 3D creation and virtual creator is channeling the spirit of the original Supermodels. But unlike that Linda Evangelista quote about not getting out of bed for less than $10,000, Ivaany lives by her own mantra: “Eat. Sleep. Pose. Repeat.” Good things come to those who work, work, work.
She is part of the Diigitals dynasty taking the virtual modeling world by storm. This fuller-figured digital influencer champions sustainable lifestyle choices for urban living. Her latest partnership with Smart automakers is meant catch an eye and an ear of the young trendsetters worldwide.