A couple years ago, I came across this Instagram page that had millions of followers. The profile had tons of posts boasting about luxury fashion brand collaborations, sponsored content on Airbnb and top hotels they were being placed at, and all the other perks high profile influencers get. The only difference was, this person was not real. It was a computer designed women who had all the features that women apparently want: flat stomach, long straight hair, long eyelashes, thigh gap, and nice teeth. I was really confused how a fake account could get such a following and later found out this computer designed illusion had a name, it’s called deepfake technology.
Deepfake technology is AI-manipulated video content that splices two or more people (often famous people) into one. Since 2017, this technology has had a lot of bad press. Deepfake has continuously been used for revenge porn and allegedly in the 2020 election to steer voters wrong. Facebook has even banned the use of it from their platform. Impersonating someone else is a violation of TikTok and Instagram’s terms of services but if done properly, deepfake is incredibly hard to detect and has very little regulation or laws, outlawing the movement.
With that being said, when it comes to fashion, could there be any positives to deepfake technology? Deepfakes have the potential to help brands reach customers in a very personal way. For influencers and celebrities, the technology can expand their audience and protect them from potential virus exposure by agreeing to sign off on their appearance without ever showing up for a photo shoot. Basically, a computer can take the person’s face and voice, and replicate the celebrity in 16 different languages and poses. From a brand stand point, they can then curate captions that match the tone and voice of specific audiences and post on the platform they think is most effectives — putting the power back in the brands hands.
Retailers can take it a step further by casting a wide net of outfits on different skin tones, heights and weights — allowing the consumer to view the products as an accurate extension of themselves. Deepfake grants retailers the ability to play around with demographics and languages to appeal to more audiences. Fashion brands are even developing deepfake assistants to help with online shopping. By speaking to a “real” face, trust would be enhanced and the potential to entice customers into a sale is higher. Translation: customization and personalized content will get brands far in a pandemic and post-pandemic world.
Personally, I think this technology is cool, if used properly. I find it exciting but also unsettling. If more and more people give in to signing away their rights, appearance and voice — it makes me worry what else the technology will take from them.
Photo via @lilmiquela