Digital model shakes up SA fashion scene by hanging out with Riky Rick
From online shops to apps to avatar supermodels, the fashion world is embracing big changes thanks to tech
"I left part of my heart in Africa. I was overwhelmed by the warmth, passion and love I received," wrote fashion influencer Noonoouri on Instagram after a recent visit to Cape Town.
While she was here, attending the Condé Nast luxury conference, Noonoouri was seen in several locations including the Bo-Kaap; hung out with the likes of local rapper Riky Rick; and was spotted wearing South African designers Rich Mnisi and Thebe Magugu.
Noonoouri is the ideal fashionista: she doesn't stipulate that she'll only get out of bed for $10,000 a day, does not act like a diva on shoots, and she never ages. She is an avatar, a digital luxury fashion model with 273,000 followers on Instagram.
Noonoouri was created by graphic designer Joerg Zuber, who is based in Munich.
"The idea of her started when I was five years old," Zuber said in an interview with the Sunday Times. "I just wanted a doll to dress up and I held a copy of Vogue magazine for the first time. I fell in love with beauty and fashion.
"Eight years ago, when bloggers and influencers came up, I thought, 'Maybe it's time to create a digital character.'"
Noonoouri was born on February 12 2018 and has "influenced" for luxury brands such as Dior, Miu Miu, Tod's and Fendi, to name a few. She is the first avatar to model clothes at a South African fashion event.
When asked about the fashion tech revolution, Salvatore Ferragamo CEO Micaela le Divelec Lemmi said there was a space for luxury and digital to come together but that the human touch would always be there.
"The digital experience will not substitute the personal engagement."
Much has been written about fashion retail and the digital age.
Online shoppers provide brands with priceless data that can be used to predict trends and significantly reduce the gap between what is being produced and what is being sold.
Then there are apps, such as Screenshop, created by Kim Kardashian. Users take a photo of a look they like and open the app to find similar products. Online payment is made easier with digital wallet options such as Apple and Android Pay.
BigCommerce, a technology company that develops e-commerce software for businesses, found that two out of three millennials prefer to shop online rather than go to a physical store. Try-on avatars enable shoppers to fit outfits on a customised avatar.
Trend analysts have for some time predicted that technology will enable clothing of the future to perform tasks such as unlocking and starting your car. Heart-rate monitors become finely tuned when integrated into a bra.
Now digital-age avatars like Noonoouri are changing the way fashion designers create their looks and show them.
Young, emerging South African designer Thebe Magugu says the influence of social media has opened doors for him and given his brand global reach. Magugu's designs currently feature in Italian and Portuguese Vogue and were modelled at Somerset House in London.
Born in Kimberley, Magugu won the overall International Fashion Showcase in London this year, for having the best collection and best exhibition space.
"Technology has created a democratised industry for fashion, where someone who is just starting can find themselves globally known faster than they anticipated," he said. "However, there's also a push and pull with fashion and technology."
He said digital influencers such as Noonoouri would probably take business from real-life influencers.
"Luxury fashion manifests itself in many forms. These are increasing by the day, and avatars such as Noonoouri are an example of that," Vogue International editor Suzy Menkes said in an interview.
"Such icons are an interactive way for consumers to engage with brands, particularly Generation Z, who will become the luxury consumer of the future."
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