Singapore’s digital fashion festival The Front Row returns for its second year. And it’s perhaps no surprise that one of the models fronting the event is Rae, a computer-generated avatar with over 500,000 followers in Weibo and Instagram combined.
A purple-haired beauty with pan-Asian features, she does not look out of place in a photo shoot with four real-life models fronting the event: Diya Prabhakar, Alexis Cooke, Lisa Van Duren and Srri Raam.
Rae, communicating only digitally, says: “I’m created digitally by CGI technology and powered by AI, and this marks the first time I’m fronting a fashion festival. The future of fashion and digital trends are closer than never before. The feeling is electric!” Well, of course.
Though Rae has not graced physical catwalks as the others have, she has appeared in more campaigns than most flesh-and-blood models. Since her debut in Oct 2020, she’s collaborated with sneakers brand SBTG, cult label Monsoon Patrol, street artist Sam Lo, luxury car brand Audi and celebrity stylist Kim Robinson (who gave her the purple locks) – a testament to the meteoric rise of virtual influencers globally.
Rae says: “It’s definitely an exciting time to be virtual, especially when there are fully digital closets now to put your best foot forward – minus the carbon impact because there won’t be any textile waste.”
Many of these brands are wholly committed to making fashion that is responsible, inclusive and seasonless: Jude by Jude Ng upcycles all unused cloth. Korean label Ki Lee makes chic accessories from eco-friendly material only. ITT Swim makes sexy swimwear from recycled plastics and other waste. The Better Diamond promotes lab-grown diamonds as an ethical alternative to mined diamonds.
Madly Gems, a jewellery design house founded by former-Kiss92 deejay Maddy Barber, will be showcasing its baubles. PHOTO: MADLY GEMS
Other brands featured in the festival include In Good Company, Marilyn Tan, Madly Gems, Max.Tan, Olive Ankara, Shirt Number White, Tria The Label, Michael Cinco, Sebastian Gunawan and Nuboaix.
Meanwhile, the pandemic has also compelled almost every brand to pivot online, with expanded e-stores and concerted social media campaigns. The Front Row, supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, is helping these brands with their online push.
Rae, a natural champion of digital transformations, says: “The pandemic has greatly influenced how we shop now. We probably spend more time now thinking of what clothes to cart out… than trying them physically in-store.
“The extensive information on measurements, model’s sizes, colour options and lookbooks have greatly increased our appetite for an offline-to-online experience. And a lot of the emotional attachment or perceived value to a certain label is probably the result of a digitally-driven journey rather than interacting with retailers face-to-face.”
We look at three Singapore-born designers now living overseas who are making their debut appearances at The Front Row festival.