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Photogenics launches new avatar division helping models monetise in the digital world

By Rachel Douglass


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Fashion |Interview

Image: Photogenics Models: The Fly Twins, Grace and Hope Fly

LA-based modelling agency Photogenics has announced the launch of a new Avatar division, allowing brands to further explore the digital world while enabling models to monetise their careers beyond the physical.

Engineered alongside designers Nina Hawkins, also known as Ninocence of Lilium Labs, and Horizon Lab’s Sage Morei, with the help of John Caldwell of Wave Financial & Unicorn DAO, who served as a mentor, the new division will offer up avant-garde, photorealistic avatars, created by scanning a model’s face using a camera and a proprietary stitching algorithm.

The Photogenics Avatar Division will be launching this month with 13 models, including Sedona Legge, Milan Dixon and Dasha Nguyen, each of which have been transformed into virtual reality characters. The final digitised avatars can be used for animation, digital art or to display clothes, offering an alternative form of presentation for brands and retailers alike.

Image: Photogenics Model: Milan Dixon

The agency, which was founded by former model Nicole Bordeaux and Smashbox co-founders Dean and Davis Factor, is one of the first in the modelling industry to dive into this fast developing space as fashion brands become increasingly prominent within the metaverse. A number of digital designers and fashion platforms have already got involved in the project’s launch, including independent creators Nusi Quero and Yimeng Yu, and digital fashion e-commerce platform, DressX, which boast a wide selection of designers.

Speaking to FashionUnited, Bordeaux outlined the added value behind metaverse-based modelling, what opportunities it presents for each creative party and why brands should consider experimenting with this sector.

Why did you decide to launch this avatar division?

After the pandemic I felt an urgency for remote based business, the digital landscape, and the emerging pool of incredibly talented 3D artists. As an art driven agency I was intrigued by the metaverse, and thought well this is a game changer, why not me? I can do this. As trailblazers in the industry, we wanted to create this opportunity so that our industry doesn’t fall to computer-generated talent.

Image: Photogenics Model:Oleksandra Suprunenko

How can fashion brands integrate virtual avatars into their strategies and marketing approaches?

It can be social, it can be campaign driven, it can be an event in the metaverse, an appearance, a non-fungible token (NFT), a wearable - the options are endless. We are creating photorealistic, avant-garde digital avatars for clients around the world to utilise for shoots, drops, wearables, events, and modelling jobs in the metaverse.

Why should fashion brands consider the use of virtual avatars?

It allows brands, designers, and models more opportunity. The opportunity to be more flexible and creative. Photogenics is giving brands the opportunity to take their avatars on a digital ride while eliminating the cost and hassle associated with booking flights, accommodating travel, or renting photo studios. It’s a win, win for everyone involved.

Image: Photogenics Model: Mouna Fadiga

What opportunities does this new division present for tech and consumers?

It’s a game changer: It opens a whole other world, a new medium in which brands can come to life. Creating avatars is a very long, precise, labour intensive process, in addition it's quite expensive. This gives models the option to licence and not have the high expenses of creating their own or paying for IRL photoshoots.

How can real-life models also benefit from this addition?

Speaking in regards to the real life models that have an avatar, it will increase the RLM day rate, and elevate their brand - if created and managed correctly. This division provides models an opportunity to extend their careers within the digital realm, providing longevity and unlocking even more opportunities. We believe the IRL model and the digital avatar can exist simultaneously.

Image: Photogenics Model: Ganna Bogdan
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