Levi's 'Artificial Diversity' AI models
Occurred: April 2023
An announcement by Levi Strauss that it is partnering with Netherlands-based digital fashion studio Lalaland.ai to create AI-generated fashion models has opened the demin maker to accusations of diversity washing and backdoor job terminations.
Lalaland.ai says it generates 'hyper-realistic' models of varying body types, ages, and skin tones. Levi's statement said it planned to test the virtual fashion models to 'supplement human models, increasing the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.'
The backlash to the announcement was swift and unequivocal, accusing Levi's of a creating 'diversity stunt' and of failing to say if it was to have any impact on its use of human models. Levi's later responded to concerns by saying it does not plan to scale back its use of real models or live photoshoots.
A July 2020 company re-structuring saw Levi Strauss lay off 700 employees, or 15 percent of its workforce. A further 800 jobs were terminated in 2022.
Operator: Levi Strauss
Purpose: Supplement human models
Technology: Generative adversarial network (GAN)
Issue: Appropriateness/need; Business model; Employment
Levi Strauss & Co (2023). LS&Co. Partners with Lalaland.ai
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Published: April 2023