16 Jun In conversation with the world’s first digital Super model “Shudu”
- Computer generated models are becoming more common place in Fashion
- The African aesthetic is increasingly being explored, even with CGI models
- Shudu the world’s first digital supermodel is from South Africa
Virtual models and influencers have risen to prevalence in Instagram feeds, Virtual Fashion shows and even in real world fashion campaigns. In this Wire exclusive, we speak to the first digital Supermodel “Shudu” about the African Aesthetic, Afro-futurism, her favourite brands & looks and the impact of AI and CGI on both humans and the fashion industry.
Virtual Supermodel Stars in a Real Fashion Photoshoot: The Making of Shudu’s First-Ever Shoot | WWD
The WIRE: What do you think of the world’s current fascination with the African aesthetic?
Shudu: I think this is a very interesting question. This aesthetic you speak of moves culture, be that in mainstream music, fashion, beauty etc. I think that conversations around inclusivity and diversity are important. What is encouraging though, is how loudly we are telling each other to buy black. I am incredibly conscious of the brands I work with and the people who are attached to my name. Although my team and I may not always get it right, for the most part, we work with people who reflect and benefit the culture I originate from. The world and its fascinations are fleeting. But our aesthetics are eternal because it comes from legacy and culture. I want to see that continue, regardless of who is interested in us.
What does the term Afro-Futurism mean to you?
Afro-futurism speaks to me. It means more of ourselves, that we are thriving, innovating, creating. It means independence and freedom, especially concerning the African continent but it also transcends across the diaspora. I am Afro-Futuristic in my very existence. I am a collaboration between peoples, cultures and histories.
What’s your favourite look right now, especially considering lockdown?
Give me everything in Hanifa’s Pink Label Congo collection! I need the Mái Maxi Dress in my wardrobe.
What fashion brands have you worked with?
This list keeps growing. I loved wearing Lavie by CK dress for my feature with Harper’s Bazaar Arabia. The pieces MIANIK Accessories designs are so stunning and we created some bold content together. I love Tru Face by Grace’s pieces. Working with brands isn’t just about the project. It’s so important that our visions align. My collaboration with Balmain stands out to me for that too. I felt that Olivier and I were on very similar pages.
Do you feel that AI can impact on the human experience?
I believe this more every day. There are so many technological developments that make the impossible possible. I am a result of this development. It has been so interesting to see how companies have had to become so much more digitally facing, especially since the pandemic. I talk a lot about how AI can help with issues of sustainability in the fashion industry but it is so much more than that. I can see most industries using some form of AI in the future.
What defines beauty for you in the digital space that you occupy?
Beauty is elusive and beyond definition. Beauty should only be defined for each individual by each individual. In a digital sense, my beauty is connected to how human I look. As I grow, I have developed more fine lines, more texture and more detail. I love these human touches. But it’s different for other virtual models.
Is it important for you to represent or to project your Africanness?
Oh absolutely. It influences everything I do and every project I work on. The world’s first digital model is from South Africa. Let that sink in. My name alone tells you where I am from and I love it. I try to collaborate with as many African creatives as I can on every single project. It’s not just about me, we all need to be represented.
Which Fashion designer would you love to work with?
I mentioned Hanifa earlier. It would be so cool to model for her one day. I’m also obsessed with Christie Brown’s work. I love Pyer Moss, Brother Vellies, Andrea Iyamah, Fe Noel, honestly, the list is endless.
Are you working on any projects we can expect to see in the near future?
I am constantly working in some way or another. There are very exciting projects lined up but right now everything has been forced to a standstill. My team and I are tuned into the protests happening in America and around the world. We’ve been donating, having conversations & speaking to our industry. The future looks so bleak right now but the energy permeating the air at the moment can no longer be ignored.
Note to reader: Shudu is created by former Fashion Photographer Cameron James-Wilson. Ama Badu is the voice of Shudu. Shudu is represented by The Diigitals, the world’s first all-digital modelling agency launched by Wilson.