Are virtual influencers the future of fashion?

Are virtual influencers the future of fashion?

07.07.2022 Off By manager_1

We explore how first virtual lifestyle influencer can help us see the possibility of a meta world that marries reality. Technology is changing rapidly. These concepts were not fully understood until Kyra, India’s first virtual celebrity (VI), was announced online.

Kyra, a 21-year old lifestyle digital avatar, has a total of 113k Instagram followers (@kyraonig). Kyra, a model and traveller, was launched by Himanshu Goel (business head at TopSocial India), in December 2021. Goel says, “When we noticed the rise in virtual influencers around the globe, we knew that we had to tap it all in India too.”

What is a VI?

A VI is a digital character created using computer graphics that simulate human characteristics. Each character has its own personality, with quirks and real biases. Wataru Matsumoto is the senior content director of Aww Inc.’s virtual human agency. He says that “virtual people are growing day by day.” Virtual humans will be commonplace when metaverse and Web3 are more common.

Like real influencers use social media to influence buying behavior, VIs are also used by brands as a marketing tool to attract the right customers. Gartner predicts that 30% of influencer marketing budgets in 2025 will go to virtual influencers. According to different estimates, the influencer marketing industry is worth billions. Brands will invest a portion of their influencer marketing budgets in innovations in the space over the next few years,” Goel says, adding that “we already have a lot interest from brands who would like to work with Kyra.”

Fashion and Intersection

Balmain used virtual models Margot, Shudu and Zhi for one campaign in 2018. Prada collaborated to promote its Fall 2018 collection with Miquela. Designers like Anamika Khanna and Pankaj are closer to home. “I have tried my hand at NFT, and witnessed firsthand the power digital media has.” Malhotra says, “Whether it’s experimenting with NFT project in the metaverse and virtual influencers. Designers entering this space would open peoples eyes to the possibility that virtual influencers could play a key role fashion marketing.”

Designer Shubhika Sharma (founder and CEO of Papa Don’t Preach) became the first Indian designer in a metaverse platform that showcased her garments through virtual models. It is exciting, but challenging to be the first designer in this category. She shares that she hopes this will open doors to bigger and more exciting things in India’s fashion industry.

Virtual vs. Real

One wonders if VIs will be able to replace real-life counterparts with greater creativity and cost-effectiveness. Masoom Minawala, a fashion influencer, says that even though virtual influencers have been growing in popularity, humans will never be out of fashion, especially considering how important authenticity has become. Niharika NM, an influencer, believes there is potential for virtual influences with the ever-growing content production industry. “We might not see VIs take over in the next few decades, but they will soon exploit the realms social media amongst us.”