AI-generated models are coming to Levi’s e-commerce sites.
Parent company Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) announced a new partnership with buzzy startup LaLaLand.ai, an Amsterdam-based digital fashion studio that builds customized AI-generated models.
LS&Co. plans to test the technology to supplement human models later this year. The goal is to sustainably increase the number and diversity of models for its products, it said.
Founded in 2019, Lalaland utilizes AI to enable fashion brands and retailers to use hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size, and skin tone. With these body-inclusive avatars, the company aims to create a more “inclusive, personal, and sustainable shopping experience” for fashion brands, retailers, and customers.
“We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with LaLaLand, a company with such high-quality technology that can help us continue on our journey for a more diverse and inclusive customer experience,” said Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, LS&Co. global head of digital and emerging technology strategy.
Though avatars are being used as virtual 3D fashion fit models, and virtual influencers like Miquela have fronted brand campaigns, few have unlocked the technology’s potential to showcase fashion on diverse bodies.
Levi’s says diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in front of and behind the camera, are a top priority. In 2020, it said it would try to increase representation and publish annual updates on employee demographics and diversity statistics, and publish wage equity audits every other year. A year later, it says it has reached each of these goals.
There’s room to improve representation online, however. The Levi’s website and app generally show just one model for each product and don’t disclose what size the model is wearing.
The cost of photography and site maintenance, coupled with the cadence of new product arrivals, challenges many brands, especially in denim when one jean fit can come in multiple washes and finishes. Brands are taking steps to show jeans on diverse bodies online, however. Old Navy shows women’s styles on models sizes 4, 12 and 18. Good American shows jeans on models wearing sizes 0 and 16. Notoriously size-inclusive Universal Standard shows how some garments, such as denim, look on models wearing a size 0, 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, 28, 32 and 36.
For LS&Co., artificial intelligence “can potentially assist us by supplementing models, unlocking a future where we can enable more customers to see our products on more models that look like themselves, creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience,” it said.
Gershkoff Bolles stressed that human models will still have an important role in Levi’s e-commerce strategy as the company continues its digital transformation.
“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us, we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” she said.