For online fashion retailers, displaying an ever-changing selection of clothing can pose a major logistical and financial challenge.
Enter virtual models—computer-generated ladies and gentlemen who can strike a pose, look good in anything, and don't require makeup or a paycheck.
Looklet co-founders Adam Berg and Robert Ahlborg answered questions about why virtual models are good for online retailers, how the models are created, and what digitally crafted models say about body image.
What was the original concept for Looklet? Did you always plan to partner with retailers and fashion companies?
The original idea was that we wanted to create a styling tool online, where users could combine real garments on real models. Although this was primarily targeted at the end consumer, we knew from the start that this product would interest fashion retailers online.
The idea of it as the b2b solution for creating images that is our main focus today grew organically as our licensing customers understood how they could achieve higher quality and save money with our process.
What are the advantages for a retailer who uses digital models on its website, as opposed to actual models?
Normally e-commerce fashion companies handle a huge amount of images every day creating the digital product description. The shooting needs planning, preparation and big budgets. It needs specific locations, models and large teams of special competences. This old way of doing things is extremely time consuming and also costs a lot of money.
We came into this business with fresh eyes and have re-invented the workflow of the traditional shoot by breaking it into separate pieces where products, models, backgrounds, effects are shot separately — all made in a far more technical, faster and industrialized manner. The final image is then put together in the last stage through our software combining the different elements.
This creates client control of the image creation instead of they being dependent on attending the actual photoshoot managing photographers, models and makeup teams. Our process creates consistent high quality through the industrialization and also saves a lot of money since the big teams of models, photographers are no longer needed.
How do you create the models? Are they based on actual humans?
Exactly how we do it is something that I can not disclose but everything you see in the end result is photos of real humans and real garments. We avoid working with virtual images because it’s extremely time consuming, if even possible, to achieve the same quality as photography. We’re a bit of old school magicians, masters of smoke and mirrors.
Looklet.com offers options for face and skin type. Are there options for body shape as well?
We have an always growing number of different body shapes and poses available for both men and women, and we also create new body shapes on demand, giving our clients the freedom to chose whatever body they want to display their products on.
How do you respond to critics who say that virtual models are unrealistic and put even more pressure on women to be thin?
A relevant discussion, but as we offer any body type, it’s the client that has the end choice on how it wants to present its products.
What does the future look like for the company? Are there expansion plans? Do you expect virtual models to become the norm for online shopping? Elsewhere?
We have huge interest in our product from all around the world. E-commerce fashion companies around the world struggle with the problem of handling thousands and thousands of images in an effective way. We have very good hopes and big plans for helping them out. Stay tuned.
The folks at Looklet can create figures with any body type.
But the models tend to to be thin.
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