Are Lil Miquela, Shudu Heralding The Death Of “Real-Life” Influencers?
She has more than a million followers on Instagram and a Wikipedia page. She also has an arch-nemesis called Bermuda and last year, released a single on Spotify. That’s not all – this social media influencer partnered with Prada this year to launch their spring collection. She is not real.
Well, not in the actual sense of the term anyway. She may not be flesh and blood but to her followers, Lil Miquela is as real as any other artist out there. Miquela is a computer-generated avatar, a “sentient digital art” and her followers call themselves “Miquelites”.
Such an honor to pay homage to the queen @lilkimthequeenbee and @david_lachapelle for @papermagazine #breaktheinternet !!! And now that we’ve broken the internet break out your wallets and donate to @myfriendsplace by clicking the link in my bio! Gonna match all the $$ you guys donate to this amazing organization. ❤❤❤❤
A post shared by *~ MIQUELA ~* (@lilmiquela) on
Then, of course, there’s the ‘world’s first digital supermodel’ Shudu. Her creator, Cameron James Wilson, stated that Shudu was inspired by a Barbie doll.
“CGI and 3D models offer a way for us to explore or create things that we never ever seen before,” he told CBS. “Like how can we explore beauty in a world that’s only limited by the physical things around us. Shudu has appeared in a Women’s Wear Daily fashion spread and has around 127K followers.
Attorney David Polgar who is studying the ethics of technology told CBS that he believes the FTC needs to have guidelines for CGI influencers. “If it is a fictional character that a consumer doesn’t know if it’s real, then to a large extent that is not actually a person. That’s just an extended brand. So I think what we would have to worry about is should there be transparency that would be needed about the interaction with that brand,” he told the news websites.
So does this mean that CGI influencers are the next top models? Are real, living influencers fast becoming redundant? Think about it – CGI influencers can model your clothes and there is no added cost for production and photography et al. Lil Miquela and Shudu have already proved that they wield major influence online and that their followers don’t see a difference between a human ‘influencer’ or a CGI one.
In fact, one can argue that Lil Miquela and her ilk have the added advantage of being novel ideas. They can literally carry off any outfit and aren’t bound by the so-called limitations of the human body. “I’ve never been paid to wear pieces but I’m starting to get sent free stuff from brands. I try to support and tag brands that I love, especially from young designers who are trying to break through,” Miquela told the Business of Fashion.
As of now, we are still plenty obsessed with the Hadids and the Kardashian-Jenners. The question is, with the leaps and bounds mankind is making in AI, will the Miquelas and Shudus of the world replace the real-life ones?
(Header credits: Lil Miquela and Shudu on Instagram)