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H&M admit to using computer-generated fashion models

Yahoo Lifestyle
6 December 2011

The models featuring in H&M’s swimwear and lingerie campaigns are fake - literally.

Håcan Andersson, a press officer for H&M, told Swedish newspaper Aftonbladet that most of the model bodies on the site are “completely virtual.”

While many complaints have been made recently about the overuse of airbrushing and digital altering on real women, these models differ because their models bodies are totally computer-generated.

[See also: Computer tool reveals the secrets of fashion industry photo retouching]

Most consumers browsing the site before may have noticed how unusual it was that every model was posed in the exact same position with a hand on their hip, facing straight on.

H&M admitted to using “facial models” for their website and catalogues, superimposing their heads onto the standard body shape using photo-editing software. The only thing that appears different, apart from the clothing, is the skin tone which is digitally altered to match each model’s face.

Aftonbladet accused the company of using the computer-generated images because H&M were not impressed with the quality of models it was seeing.

The company’s spokesperson disputed that idea saying they only used that method to make the clothes look good.

Andersson said: “It’s not about ideals or to show off a perfect body, we are doing this to show off the garments. This is done for all garments, not just underwear. It applies to both women’s and men’s clothing.”

This method of using computer generated bodies doesn't seem to apply to the ad campaigns on billboards but does happen with the models on H&M's e-commerce site.

Their justification of using this method to make the clothes look desirable has not gone down well with the Scandinavian advertising watchdogs.

The Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation have criticised H&M for producing an unrealistic physical representation of the female body.

Helle Vaagland of the NBC said: “This illustrates very well the sky-high aesthetic demands placed on the female body. The demands are so great that H&M, among the poor photo models, cannot find someone with both body and face that can sell their bikinis."

It’s understandable that H&M want to slash costs: cutting and pasting outfits onto the same model is surely less expensive than paying out money for a multitude of different models. But now they have admitted to using misleading images, they may have a heavier price to pay with angry consumers.

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