The rise of technology is evident today more than ever as major companies similar to Apple Inc. and Google consistently release advancements. Social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram harbor millions of selfies; however, there is a fine line between real and ideal due to an influential trend on the rise in the fashion industry.
Have you considered the ramifications of modern technology colliding with the fashion industry? Current designers are experiencing the industry-changing effects firsthand.
19-year-old Miquela Sousa, better known by her Instagram handle (@lilmiquela), is Instagram’s latest It-girl, from sharing insightful makeup tips, modeling name brand fashion and speaking out on political and social movements. The attribute setting Sousa apart from the typical social media celebrity is the influencer is not “real” by a traditional definition.
“I find inspo from Instagram, Los Angeles, and my friends every day,” Sousa says to Vogue. “I have so many great looks saved to try to recreate. The fact that people are inspired by my looks and send makeup or fan art of me is so incredible! Everyone out there is so talented and I really love that people take the time to add a little Miquela to their own art and expression.”
Sousa is not the first virtual celebrity to revolutionize the fashion industry. In fact, former creative director of Givenchy, Riccardo Tisci, additionally caught onto the virtual fashion trend by creating an exclusive couture gown for virtual pop sensation Hatsune Miku to model. In 2013, Miku demonstrated original Marc Jacobs costume designs during the virtual star’s period of collaboration with music artists Lady Gaga and Pharrell Williams.
Furthermore, Louis Vuitton later chose a virtual avatar from the “Final Fantasy” video game series for its spring-summer 2016 campaign, according to WT VOX.
In addition to representing successful brands such as Chanel, Prada, Louis Vuitton and Supreme, Sousa utilizes her large fan base to present her stance as an avid transgender rights activist and voice for movements such as Black Lives Matter.
“Life in Los Angeles is this duality of endless opportunity and desperation on every street corner,” Sousa says to Nylon. “To watch trans women brutalized, to watch people of color struggle to be heard—there are so many people who need help, and I’m trying to use my platform to do that.”
With thousands of followers populating the internet sensation’s feed, Sousa urges fans to donate to Planned Parenthood and educate on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, while using her platform to raise money for different organizations.
“I think everyone is responsible to speak on these issues, no matter what your identity or background may be,” Sousa says. “We all owe it to each other to spread awareness and acceptance.”
Is technology taking over? Nonetheless, Miquela Sousa remains behind the screen as what The Washington Post Co. calls “Instagram’s biggest mystery.”