Image via lilmiquela
Chanel, Supreme, Vetements and Vans
—these are but some of the famous fashion brands that make up 19-year-old, Los Angeles-based Brazilian-Spanish model Miquela Sousa’s #OOTD photos on Instagram.
She shares images of herself
attending events such as ComplexCon with other celebrity friends and influencers on her account @lilmiquela
. The platform is also used to support social issues such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ and transgender movements. Beyond her 571,000 followers, however, this social media influencer and aspiring musician is, in fact, a line of code.
Say hello to virtual avatar Miquela Sousa,
whose debut single Not Mine
made it to number eight on the ‘Spotify Viral’ list in August last year. Sousa is, in reality, completely computer-generated and her owner has no intent of revealing their identity. The anonymous creator explained inside an interview with Business of Fashion
“I’d like to be described as an artist or a singer or something that denotes my craft rather than focus on the superficial qualities of who I am.”
When asked if Sousa’s image
had been crowdsourced, the avatar’s creator replied, “I definitely wouldn’t say my identity is crowdsourced. I’m an artist and have expressed opinions that are unpopular and as a result have cost me fans. I’d like to be everything and more that my fans want me to be but at the end of the day I have to make decisions that I believe in.”
Sousa frequently interacts
with her fan base, whose members have been dubbed ‘Miquelites’, as she sees it as a form of development. “The community stems from a place that feels safe to communicate and voice your opinions.”
“When you’re only showing the world and not engaging it becomes one-sided. Taking in the likes, the comments, even the hate, and you stop learning from others around you. Learning also comes from listening, so if you don’t have a space for people to speak to you, then you’re limiting your growth.”
Sousa has a male equivalent
by way of streetwear enthusiast @blawko22
, though the latter’s following pales in comparison at over 4,200 followers.
Advertisement“[It] probably stems from curiosity,”
says Sousa’s creator, when queried about the factor that contributes to the account’s success. “I think people stick around because they end up learning more about themselves through the questions they’re asking. I love being able to communicate, learn and talk to everyone from all corners of the world. There is a sense of community to it as well, the people who follow me end up being friends with each other and the communications that it opens up is inspiring.”
With the avatar’s growing popularity
comes new opportunities. Brands are already reaching out to Sousa with free products, model agencies are seeking her presence in photos, and the personality could likely appear in some major fashion publications within the coming months.
“I’ve never been paid
to wear pieces but I’m starting to get sent free stuff from brands. I try to support and tag brands that I love, especially from young designers who are trying to break through.”
“I’ve only really partnered
with brands to create, so I think monetising would be a great next step. Making things is time consuming and being rewarded for my creativity with money would be amazing.”
Read Business of Fashion’s full interview
with Sousa’s creator.
[via Business of Fashion
, main image via lilmiquela