Fashion brand Levi Strauss & Co has announced a partnership with digital fashion studio Lalaland.ai to make custom artificial intelligence (AI) generated avatars in what it says will increase diversity among its models.
San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co — often shortened to just Levi’s — is perhaps best known for its wide range of blue jeans. Founded in 1853, the company says it is one of the world’s largest brand-name apparel companies and is a global leader in jeanswear. It has chosen to partner with Lalaland.ai in order to use its advanced AI to create a wider range of avatars to model its clothes.
Lalaland.ai was founded in 2019 in Amsterdam and says it uses “advanced artificial intelligence” to give fashion brands and retailers the ability to create hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size, and skin tone. It isn’t the only company in the AI-generated model game either. Earlier this month, Deep Agency launched what it describes as a photo studio without cameras, people, or a physical location.
Levi Strauss says that it generally has one model for each of its products, but understands that buyers might want to shop for clothes with models that look more like them.
“We believe our models should reflect our consumers, which is why we’re continuing to diversify our human models in terms of size and body type, age and skin color,” the company says, but goes on to explain that working with real people isn’t enough to meet its goals.
The partnership with Lalaland.ai is one that Levi Strauss says can likely assist the brand in an endeavor to expand the number of models that each line of clothing has so that customers can see Levi’s products on more models that look like themselves, which it says will create “a more personal and inclusive shopping experience.”
“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,” Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co says.
“We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Lalaland.ai, a company with such high-quality technology that can help us continue on our journey for a more diverse and inclusive customer experience.”
Levi Strauss says that diversity, equity, and inclusion are a “top priority” for the company and says that while AI-generated models are a way to help reach its goals in this area, it’s not the only solution it is using. The company says that over the past year, it has been working to assure that not only its own workforce is diverse, but that those both in front of and behind the camera reflect its “broad consumer base.”
From what Levi Strauss describes, it doesn’t sound as though the company intends to do away with photography, but given the sheer volume of avatars that can be created with LaLaLand.ai, real photos of actual people will likely be outnumbered by models that don’t actually exist.
Levi Strauss isn’t the only fashion brand to embrace AI models. Lalaland.ai notes it also works with Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and the Otto Group. The average person will likely never be able to tell that a majority of the models they see wearing any of these brands’ clothes aren’t actual people.
Update 3/27: A spokesperson for Levi Strauss provided the following to PetaPixel‘s request for comment:
“This partnership and test are still in the very early stages, so we are still working out what this might look like. However, I’d like to emphasize this will not replace or impact photoshoots, this is purely supplemental to our current ways of working.
“Over the past year, we’ve been focused on ensuring that not only are our models diverse but also that those working on the content both in front of and behind the camera are reflective of our broad consumer base, and this will continue to be a priority for us.
“Our goal for our partnership with Lalaland.ai is to improve the consumer experience and unlock a future where we can enable more consumers to see our products on more models that look like themselves –potentially as soon as a product is released – creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience in real-time. It’s important to note that this partnership is still in the early stages, with tests on track for later this year. Once we have key learnings and feedback, we can assess how AI will be used in the future.
“We are still hiring a wider range of human models and will continue to do so. We know our consumers want to shop with models who look like them, and we believe our models should reflect our consumers, which is why we’re continuing to diversify our human models in terms of size and body type, age, and skin color.
“Lalaland.ai’s technology, and AI more broadly, can potentially assist us by supplementing models and publishing images of our products on a range of body types more quickly, while we coordinate photoshoots with live models and finalize website assets. Additionally, it can help to increase the number of models per product, which is generally one model right now.”
Image credits: Header photo via Levi Strauss, Lalaland.ai