Levi’s Switching To AI Models For Diversity Increase

Levi's is using AI-created models moving forward to easily include diverse models of different sizes, shapes, and skin tones instead of relying on just one human model for new products.

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

At first glance, the idea of a clothing company like Levi’s partnering with an AI studio like Lalaland.ai sounds like the setup to a joke (or at the very least, the plot of a sequel to the horror movie about jeans, Slaxx). However, PetaPixel reports that Levi Strauss & Co has partnered with that particular studio in order to generate AI models to help showcase different kinds of available fashion. The veteran fashion company insists that this partnership will help them achieve a better diversity of fashion models than they could achieve simply by using human models.

While it’s still a weird idea to think about, Levi’s using AI to generate new models makes a lot of sense because it helps to save the company both time and money. Previously, Levi’s has typically used only one human model to help show off a particular item (such as a new pair of jeans). But they realize that consumers want to see models who look more like themselves, and the current approach of only having one model per product gets in the way of that.

In the eyes of Levi’s executives, this is a problem that AI is uniquely suited to solve. If all goes according to plan, the fashion company can stick to using one human model per product. But with the power of AI, they will be able to generate models with different features, bodily proportions, and so on. It’s the corporate dream come true: the ability to reach as many kinds of people as you can think of, all while paying only a fraction of what they’d have to pay to do this by using human models.

Models on the runway before AI takes their jobs

Of course, this has led to some inevitable criticism that Levi’s, like many other companies, wants to use AI to essentially take jobs from the humans who would normally perform them. The company insists this is not the case and will continue to hire human models and attempt to improve its diversity. But they point out that since diversity, equity, and inclusion are their primary focus, they are obligated to embrace a technological solution that will help them achieve those goals (although a world where the AI models potentially outnumber human models doesn’t sound that diverse).

And while Levi’s also insists that their use of AI will be better for consumers, many consumers are concerned (and rightfully so) by the fact that AI art has previously been very hit or miss. It’s not uncommon for AI-generated humans to have extra fingers, extra teeth, and other creepy features that move those images into the uncanny valley. If Levi’s unleashes a bunch of AI models straight out of a horror movie on us, it may drive consumers away.

Still, Levi’s embracing AI is just another example that the cat is firmly out of the bag with artificial intelligence, and it’s never going back in. We live in a world where the WGA, for example, is fine with writers just letting the AI write scripts for them (so much for human creativity). And in a world where AI chatbots tell breathless and lonely fans exactly what they want to hear, can we really be surprised when AI starts telling us what to wear?