CGI Models: The Advantages and Disadvantages in the 21st Century

What are CGI models?

The future of fashion marketing has arrived with CGI. CGI is also known as Computer Generated Imagery, and it’s usage within the modeling and influencing industry has been playing a huge role in recent years. These ‘models’ have taken over major luxury fashion brands such as Dior, Louis Vuitton and Balmain and continue to be utilised on platforms such as Instagram regularly as promotional materials.

One of the most famous CGI influencers is Lil Miquela (@lilmiquela) who has accumulated over three million followers on Instagram and has worked with top designers brands such as Prada and Calvin Klein. As reported by The Cut, she charges around $8,000 per paid Instagram post and portrays a real desirable lifestyle, attending events and dating real-life humans.

lil miquela cgi model

The British photographer Cameron-James Wilson (@cameron.gram) also created the world’s first digital supermodel Shudu (@shudu.gram) in 2017. He explains that the biggest inspiration when designing the model was his Princess of South Africa Barbie. According to Elle, Shudu has managed to be featured in Vogue and WWD in just 2 years time.

While the image of Shudu was born from a Barbie doll, a toy which doesn’t have the best reputation with body image, Wilson wanted to make sure his other designs represented a wider range of people with different looks and sizes.

That’s why The Digitals (the world’s first digital modelling agency) has a variety of models, including Bren, who has a curvier body shape and visible stretch marks. One of Wilson’s more ambitious designs is called Galaxia, who looks a bit like one of the blue aliens from Avatar, which shows there really is no limit to what a character can look like.

The advantages to CGI models:

  • It has been considered that CGI models could in fact be beneficial to human models as it allows them to create a digital version of themselves easing the strains of modelling jobs, being able to go to multiple places at once and it also has benefits of prolonging a model’s career by halting ageing.
  • They may be a safer option for brands than human models as they are easily adaptable and can be changed to suit any brand or campaign. Also, they can’t get into controversy which could lead to damaging the brand’s image as they are controlled by their creator.
  • Digitised models have sustainable advantages, such as helping reduce waste by minimising the carbon footprint from flying as well as minimising the number of clothing samples and mock-ups, which ultimately cuts tons of fabric waste.
  • 3D design could also save time for brands as they replace the more traditional processes of making sketches and samples. With 3D programs you can cut that down to weeks or even a couple of days, which could massively lower costs for brands.

The Disadvantages to CGI models:

  • There are of course downsides to living in the virtual world as they cannot form real human connections, have attitude and expression when walking down a catwalk.
  • Many people think CGI models will make it worse for future generation as they are too perfect and unrealistic, which goes against the body positivity movement. Recently, the modelling industry has come a long way in accepting women and men in all colours, shapes, and sizes. As a society, we have been more accepting of body image and so CGI models are going to have everything go in a different and negative direction.
  • Furthermore, CGI models create an interesting dilemma for ad regulation, because as it stands, CGI influencers don’t have to abide by the same rules as human influencers of the internet when it goes to #ad and #spon content. So, if a digital model wears a label in their Instagram post, they don’t necessarily have to disclose whether their creator was paid. Brands could therefore benefit from this loophole to have their sponsored content appear more authentically in people’s feeds.

Are they the future face of fashion ? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. If you are interested in global fashion news check out our other blog posts for similar updates.


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