Editor’s Note, March 28, 2023
Our recent announcement of a partnership with Lalaland.ai did not properly represent certain aspects of the program. For that, we take responsibility. We do not see this pilot as a means to advance diversity or as a substitute for the real action that must be taken to deliver on our diversity, equity and inclusion goals and it should not have been portrayed as such.
At Levi Strauss & Co., we’re committed to creating a workplace, a business and a marketplace where people from all backgrounds feel confident that they will be seen, their voices will be heard and their contributions welcomed. This involves making sure our employees and our consumers can see themselves in how we share our products with the market, which has also manifested in a commitment to support multicultural creatives behind and in front of the camera. It’s not just the right thing to do — it’s a business imperative. We know that companies and communities are stronger and more successful when they are diverse and inclusive.
We realize there is understandable sensitivity around AI-related technologies, and we want to clarify that this pilot is something we are on track to experiment with later this year in the hopes of strengthening the consumer experience. Today, industry standards for a photoshoot will generally be limited to one or two models per product. Lalaland.ai’s technology, and AI more broadly, can potentially assist us by allowing us to publish more images of our products on a range of body types more quickly.
That being said, we are not scaling back our plans for live photo shoots, the use of live models, or our commitment to working with diverse models. Authentic storytelling has always been part of how we’ve connected with our fans, and human models and collaborators are core to that experience. The Lalaland.ai partnership may deliver some business efficiencies that provide consumers with a better sense of what a given product looks like but should not have been conflated with the company’s diversity, equity and inclusion commitment or strategy.
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Today, LS&Co. announced our partnership with Lalaland.ai, a digital fashion studio that builds customized AI-generated models. Later this year, we are planning tests of this technology using AI-generated models to supplement human models, increasing the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.
Founded in Amsterdam in 2019, Lalaland.ai uses advanced artificial intelligence to enable fashion brands and retailers to create hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size and skin tone. With these body-inclusive avatars, the company aims to create a more inclusive, personal and sustainable shopping experience for fashion brands, retailers and customers.
“While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us, we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience,” said Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co. “We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Lalaland.ai, a company with such high-quality technology that can help us continue on our journey for a more diverse and inclusive customer experience.”
Today, when you shop on Levi.com or in our app, we generally have one model for each product. We know our customers want to shop with models who look like them, and we believe our models should reflect our consumers, which is why we’re continuing to diversify our human models in terms of size and body type, age and skin color. This AI technology can potentially assist us by supplementing models and unlocking a future where we can enable customers to see our products on more models that look like themselves, creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience.
Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for us at LS&Co., and it’s important to note we do not see AI-generated models as a sole solution. In fact, over the past year, we’ve been focused on ensuring that not only is our work diverse, but those working on the content both in front of and behind the camera are reflective of our broad consumer base — and we’re continuing to do just that.
LS&Co. is always focusing on our digital transformation journey, and we’re balancing digital fundamentals with investing in emerging technology to keep us at the forefront of innovation. Using our innovation framework for evaluating emerging technologies, we’re continuing to particularly explore technologies that improve the customer experience, whether in-store or online. We are excited to continue creating innovative customer experiences that are more personal, relevant and engaging, adding value for both our customers and our business.