There's a new wave of models entering the scene who are turning out to be very unlikely competition. It's well-documented that the modeling industry is over-saturated and highly selective and, as the fashion industry has been continuously scrutinized for its lack of inclusion of black models, this new kind is understandably controversial.
3D models are taking over social media and damn do they look real. Artist Cameron-James Wilson created 'Shudu Gram' in 2017, dubbing her the "World's First Digital Supermodel" and nabbing her nearly 90,000 Instagram followers. She's become a new face for black models, while the surreal look of Miquela (whose creator is still debated) has earned her nearly 900,000 fans. But we can't be mad at creatives for creating, so where do we go from here?
Is fashion going towards virtual reality? Sure, it would make the industry more cost-effective to get rid of the runway, but where is the fun in that? It would eliminate so many jobs. And what once made most people irritated by Fashion Week is now becoming nostalgic and something that we so desperately want to stay connected to. Nobody wants to attend the snob party, but we also can't resist the excitement of the runway show. As the new season's collections are paraded down the catwalk, fans can now attend the shows online through live streaming, YouTube, and Instagram. Photos of collections are uploaded immediately to Vogue's website along with written reviews just moments after each show. This direct-to-consumer marketing approach is taken a step further as collections also become available to buy immediately after the presentation, too.
So why have the show at all?
Most attendees are not educated fashion mavens that swoon over magazines all year; some are fashion professionals that hide behind their shades of critique to cover their lame expressions that read "I'm only here for work." At its bare foundation, the only things that keep fashion tangible are the models and the fabric.
Considering the introduction of the graphic 3D model and increased use of streaming for the runway, VR fashion shows seem like the natural progression. As technology has evolved and e-commerce is killing retail, it makes good business sense to cut the cost of runway altogether. The VR experience plus direct-to-consumer marketing and sales will work in flawless cohesion that securing a sale should almost be guaranteed.
However, the obvious downside is that this will put many people out of work, specifically the black model. These 3D models will be designed to suit the companies' vision of beauty which excludes the real-life characteristics that make the human experience beautiful. The "it factor" that would change that perspective is the introduction of these models for practical use in the fashion world. Moreover, the fashion industry's direct impact on the global views of beauty and class can persuade society to accept this new business approach. As much as people are enticed by this life-like reality, at its core society's desire to see real people with imperfections has been in high demand. It is hard to fathom society adapting to the virtual model.