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Virtual influencer represents SA at global fashion week

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga
Johannesburg, 21 Jun 2024
South African virtual influencer Kim Zulu is the official ambassador of New York Digital Fashion Week.
South African virtual influencer Kim Zulu is the official ambassador of New York Digital Fashion Week.

South African 21-year-old virtual influencer Kim Zulu is the official ambassador of New York Digital Fashion Week (NYDFW), taking place in September.

According to a statement, this appointment marks the first time an African virtual influencer has become a global ambassador, setting a precedent for the global digital fashion landscape.

Developed by Johannesburg-based The Avatar Company, Kim Zulu became SA’s first virtual influencer in 2020, and has since attained global fame and been profiled in Forbes US, Elle China and Fashion TV, and featured at Mercedes-Benz Russia Fashion Week in 2020.

Leveraging artificial intelligence, computer-generated fictional characters are used on social media for marketing.

As one of the official ambassadors of NYDFW, Kim Zulu will provide behind-the-scenes access to Digital Fashion Week, offering followers and fashion enthusiasts an insider's view of the event.

“Being appointed as the first African virtual influencer ambassador for New York Digital Fashion Week is an honour and a testament to the growing influence of virtual personas in the fashion world,” says Zulu.

“I am thrilled to take my followers on this exciting journey, showcasing the incredible creativity and innovation that defines New York Digital Fashion Week. This opportunity represents a significant step forward in pushing the boundaries of what virtual influencers can achieve."

NYDFW is a two-day hybrid fashion event showcasing fashion trends and experiences that connect fashion to people.

Zulu's role will include interviews with designers, providing previews of collections and ensuring the audience remains at the forefront of fashion's digital evolution. The local virtual influencer’s presence is expected to attract a diverse and global audience.

Brand and social media experts previously told ITWeb that while some jobs will be displaced by the rise of virtual influencers, the increasing demand for computer-generated “personalities” will see the creation of many more digital roles in SA’s social media landscape.

According to Grand View Research, the global virtual influencer market was estimated at $3.60 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 38.9% from 2023 to 2030. Factors such as the continuously evolving digital landscape and rising usage of social media worldwide are fuelling the market’s growth, it says.

The evolution of the fashion industry has emerged as a major market driver of the virtual influencer market, due to the creative freedom and cost-effective scalability offered by virtual influencer solutions, notes the report.