Modeling in the Age of AI

I previously wrote about how AI is going to wreck the e-thot industry. The high-brow variant of e-thoting, i.e. fashion modeling, will go down even sooner. Today I read about a big fashion brand using AI to generate pictures of models. That particular story is couched in the context of “diversity and inclusion”, i.e. Levi’s wants to use AI to create pictures of women that do not conform to classical beauty standards in advertising. The first casualty of AI in this context are of course those models who made a career out of being a bit different, to put it mildly. However, it is arguably even easier to create images of women who are classically beautiful, which means that the bulk of the work in fashion modeling will disappear.

On a side note, I wonder if Levi’s focus on models embodying diversity could have anything to do with such models being not particularly easy to work with. Then again, models of all sizes and shapes have a reputation for having rather unpleasant personalities. Consequently, I can well imagine that a lot of advertising directors will readily embrace the possibilities modern AIs provide.

AI-generated models have many advantages over their human counterpart. This mirrors what I wrote in my article on AI vs e-thots. In the past, models were picked based on their set cards. The model that is within budget and looks the closest to what the creative heads at a fashion brand or an advertising agency had in mind got the job. In contrast, with AI you can craft the ideal model for your ad campaign or online fashion catalogue.

The budget aspect is quite interesting. In the past, it was the case that the most beautiful models were the most expensive, but with AI, I would assume that those fake models all cost the same. Actually, unattractive models are most certainly more time-consuming to create as they are less symmetrical and have various blemishes. We obviously cannot discriminate against unattractive AI-generated models so I would advise against getting your hopes up. The demoralization by putting ugly women in front of you anywhere you go will continue.

The labor market for models is going to collapse. Perhaps the only two areas where AI will not be able to compete are live fashion shows and high-class escorting, but even the latter will be much diminished because Arab sheiks are probably not going to pay $10k a night for a woman who does not have the slightest star power. Yet, if there is a lot less demand for real models, the few that remain will likely work in relative obscurity. This is not at all an outlandish thought. Just think of what happened to actual supermodels since the 1990s or pornstars since the early-to-mid 2000s. Once photo cameras and, later on, video as well as digital distribution became ubiquitous, the women in those industries could no longer command a premium for their services. Cindy Crawford was a household name and so was Jenna Jameson. Today, though, you would have to look up the names of alleged supermodels. Surely, Kim Kardashian is much more famous than, for instance, Gigi Hadid.

Quite frankly, today’s “supermodels” are a bit of a joke anyway. They normally got their start due to having rich parents but not because of their stellar looks. Just have a look at the aforementioned Gigi Hadid at the age of 23 (source):

I’ve seen more attractive cleaning ladies, yet this woman makes millions a year from modeling.

Note that this is after a ton of cosmetic surgery, make-up, lighting and most certainly digital image manipulation. Still, you can walk into any club in a big city and pull out 50 women who are more attractive than this idealized version of Gigi Hadid. If you bumped into her without knowing who she was, and she told you she is a supermodel, you would probably have to laugh due to this claim being so ridiculous. Thus, probably the supermodel shtick will continue even with AI. Give it ten years and some billionaire will use his money to promote his 4/10 daughter. This will only stop if AI manages to reduce the number of billionaires with unattractive daughters.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.