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Want to know what it’s like to run a model agency without real models? We found someone with the answer.

Singaporean fashion photographer Shavonne Wong was unemployed and fed up with playing video games during the pandemic ‘breaker’, so she learned new skills online and started creating virtual models on her laptop, with hair, makeup, accessories and outfits. In August, she launched the virtual modeling agency Gen V.

“The circuit breaker was very helpful because being stuck at home meant I could be on the computer for 14 hours a day watching YouTube tutorials because I had to learn all the software I hadn’t learned at home. era,” she said. Coconut.

Singapore entered a two-month partial lockdown it euphemistically called a “circuit breaker” in April to limit the spread of COVID-19. Industries including fashion and art deemed non-essential were not allowed to operate and nearly all residents were asked to work from home.

Wong’s virtual agency was a stroke of genius given restrictions on socializing and physical contact, as fashion shows and film shoots were potential hotbeds for the coronavirus. But Wong also felt a change was long overdue for the fashion industry, which thrives on setting the latest trends in clothing, but not so much in technology.

“I’ve noticed that the fashion industry, for an industry that prides itself on being very modern and trendy, has sort of lagged behind in improving technologically,” said the young man from 29 years. “He stuck to a very traditional way of doing things, as it’s always been done.”

Wong was referring to the old-fashioned and very wasteful ways of the fashion industry by producing tons of clothes largely for the two main seasons Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. The industry has churned out even more clothes in recent years with the emergence of fast fashion outlets like H&M and Zara, which are making clothes that look old-fashioned faster than before.

Wong said this industry habit has resulted in “a lot of unsold inventory,” a problem that Wong says can be solved by replacing traditional fashion shows and garments with digital models using 3D models.

“These are all issues that I believe can help technology, doing virtual shows and waiting for customers to show interest before manufacturing, etc.,” she said.

Meet Kade, Lilium and Lunah

Virtual models Lilium, Lunah and Kade from left to right. Photos: Generation V

Wong created three virtual models she named Kade, Lilium and Lunah under her agency and has since lent their faces to local fashion publications Nuyou and Female. She did all of this without a proper office, studio, wardrobe, models, hairstylists, or makeup team — just her and her laptop.

“At the moment, my three main models differ [in physical appearance] but not too much as I need them to be around the general body shape of the model so if I make a virtual track their bodies are consistent enough. They’re all really blank slates with different faces and everything,” Wong said.

The first model she created, Kade, was originally intended to resemble East Asia, but that plan fell through due to lack of references.

Virtual model Kade posing for a photo.  Photo: Generation V
Virtual model Kade posing for a photo. Photo: Generation V

“I feel like with these virtual models it’s also good to have ambiguity in their races too, you don’t see them as just the race but more related to more people or interesting so I wouldn’t say they’re very clearly a certain race or anything,” Wong said. She’s also looking to diversify her models’ looks and plans to introduce plus-size model Vanesse as well as Lexi, who suffers from iridum heterochromia, a condition where the eyes appear different colors.

“At the end of the day, the whole idea of ​​the agency is to provide more looks, different types of diversity in the sense of different skin tones, body shapes, sizes, ages and genders, a wide range that clients can choose,” she said.

Wong also intentionally gave his models unique names so they could stand out on social media.

Wong is also no stranger to beauty and fashion, counting brands like Sephora and Lancome among her clients. She was also a guest photographer throughout the reality show’s 10-year run. Asia’s Next Top Model.

The process

Clothing patterns of an athletic leisure outfit.  Photo: Generation V
Clothing patterns of an athletic leisure outfit. Photo: Generation V

Wong spends at least two weeks creating a unique model, which involves basic 3D animation techniques she learned at polytechnic. She used online tutorials and poured through loads of real-life model references to digitally sculpt their hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, and even pores.

Then she also makes changes to the models based on the client’s request, which can further lengthen the process.

“The number of revisions that can be requested is also fairer because everything can be changed compared to when I do a photoshoot where if you want to change the image we have to go back and reshoot,” Wong said of real life vs. virtual fashion shoots.

Model Kade in a red outfit.  Photo: Generation V
Model Kade in a red outfit. Photo: Generation V

She even dressed her virtual models in the latest Prada outfits in collaboration with virtual clothing company 3D Vas3D. Creating a virtual outfit can take up to an entire day depending on the complexity of the garment, with the most time-consuming task being cutting out clothing patterns.

Wong also plans to add motion to his static virtual models so they can walk the runways or even take on hosting duties.

“My plan is to understand facial motion capture and motion capture in general so models aren’t just used for fashion, they can be used for activation, for virtual runways, and hosts for events. “, she said.

She only sees the beginning.

“With Gen V, I feel like there’s a lot of potential and we can go in a lot of directions, so I’m very open to seeing what happens and will work on it until that happens. he gets big,” she said.

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