Singapore

These models are virtually taking over

Two locals in the fashion industry ride the new wave of digitalised modelling

When safety measures and restrictions during the circuit breaker prevented local fashion photographer Shavonne Wong from attending on-set photoshoots, and she could no longer photograph models, she decided to make her own.

The 29-year-old used the time to expand her knowledge in 3D modelling and create digitalised models.

Her virtual modelling agency Gen V was officially launched in August, and it offers three models sporting racially diverse looks. Ms Wong is currently in discussions with retail and jewellery brands in Singapore and New York for assignments.

Ms Wong told The New Paper: "There is long-term potential because you are not constrained by locations and model availability. My clients can be from around the world, and my models can be anywhere at the same time, and I have more flexibility in creativity.

"The pricing is also comparable with a traditional photoshoot, depending on what the client wants.

"Clients may benefit from using physical models or virtual models, or even both. My work just gives them the option to choose."

She acknowledged that virtual models ultimately cannot compete with real models, and she is not trying to take away anyone's livelihood.

But she said: "Fashion is always meant to be a fantasy. The VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) space is taking off. The way technology goes is that change starts slow, but suddenly it comes all at once, and I want to be there before it all happens."

Local fashion technology company Lily & Lou, which specialises in customisable clothing by incorporating 2D pattern-making and 3D prototyping, also created its own virtual model during the circuit breaker.

Ms Yan Ng, Lily & Lou's founder and chief executive, said: "We were inspired to leverage our existing 3D capabilities to develop virtual models since restrictions had made photoshoots impossible at the time.

"Katie, our first virtual brand ambassador, was born out of necessity, but she also serves as a beta test for our future plans.

"Since we do everything in-house, the cost (of creating Katie) was zero dollars, but there was definitely a lot of time and effort invested."

THE NEW NORMAL

Lily & Lou aims to eventually create editable virtual models that reflect the likeness of each customer.

Ms Ng said: "Virtual models leave an impression that helps differentiate our brand from others. As Singapore continues to digitalise businesses, I am confident that virtual modelling will become the new normal."


"Traditional models are live mannequins - each with unique attributes - who have so much more to offer such as showcasing a designer's outfit at a fashion show. So I doubt they will be completely replaced by virtual ones. The novelty of virtual models may create some hype, but people will relate better to a live model. Emotion, expression and an unspoken connection - a virtual model cannot offer these."
- Mr Addie Low, founder of Now Model Management


"I recognise that virtual models are an innovative concept and a powerful marketing tool, but like all trends that come and go, I am uncertain whether they are here to stay.
While consumers may find virtual models interesting and novel at first glance, there is a lack of relatability. It will take much convincing for consumers to accept the products being marketed using virtual models. Real-life modelling is an art form, a personal outlet of expression and emotion, and can have the power to captivate and evoke."

- Ms Kaigin Yong, top local model and The New Paper New Face 2017 winner

Technology