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ZMO.ai Revolutionizes Fashion Industry with AI-Generated Models

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With the advancements in machine learning, we are witnessing the rise of algorithmically generated bodies that can move and communicate like real humans. The question now lies in the ability of startups offering such products to establish sustainable business models. Some have already showcased their potential and attracted significant investment.

ZMO.ai’s $8M Series A Financing Round

ZMO.ai, founded by a team of Chinese entrepreneurs with extensive international experience, recently concluded an impressive $8 million Series A financing round led by Hillhouse. Notable participants in the round include GGV Capital and GSR Ventures. The startup has identified a strong demand from fashion e-commerce companies that struggle to hire and afford models due to the increasing number of stock-keeping units (SKUs) and ever-changing consumer tastes. Leveraging the power of generative adversarial networks (GANs), ZMO has developed software that can create virtual full-body models by defining parameters such as face, height, skin color, body shape, and pose.

A Game-Changer for the Fashion Industry

Traditionally, the garment manufacturing process spans across several months, encompassing design, fabric selection, pattern making, modeling, and ultimately reaching store shelves. However, ZMO is revolutionizing this process by significantly shortening it. Customers can now try on clothing virtually using a model created by ZMO, enabling fashion e-commerce retailers to test products on their websites and start manufacturing once orders come in. Additionally, this technology allows companies to determine which type of people would best suit a particular product by experimenting with different virtual models.

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Unsurprisingly, ZMO’s cost-effective solution has attracted the attention of fashion e-commerce operators. Ella Zhang, ZMO’s CEO and co-founder, who previously worked at Google and Apple, revealed that the company is currently in discussions with Shein, a leading fast-fashion giant known for releasing thousands of new products daily. The potential collaboration between ZMO and Shein could be a game-changer for the fashion industry.

ZMO is not the only player in this field. Surreal, another startup backed by Sequoia, is also working on synthetic media to replace humans in lifestyle photos and other commercial scenarios. This sector gained significant interest during the COVID-19 pandemic when Chinese e-commerce exporters faced difficulties in finding foreign models due to strict border controls.

Future Innovations and Cost Reductions

Looking ahead, ZMO has plans to leverage GPT-3, a language generation model that imitates human-like natural language patterns using big data and deep learning. By incorporating GPT-3, ZMO aims to facilitate the creation of speeches for models, making it effortless for e-commerce companies to produce TikTok videos quickly and cost-effectively for product promotion.

Currently, e-commerce companies spend approximately 3% to 5% of their annual gross merchandise value (GMV) on photoshoots. Roger Yin, a co-founder of ZMO with experience at Evernote and in cross-border e-commerce, notes that images play a pivotal role in driving e-commerce sales, but the associated costs are high, especially for fashion companies with rapidly changing styles. ZMO’s ambitious goal is to reduce the costs of photoshoots to just 1% of GMV.

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ZMO’s Global Expansion

While 80% of ZMO’s customers are currently based in China, the company aims to attract more overseas users following its recent funding. With a team of 30 professionals, ZMO already serves 30 medium and large-sized customers, including Chicv, a Tencent-backed challenger to Shein, and over 100 small and medium-sized customers, including dropshipping sellers.

The co-founders of ZMO.ai include Ma Liqian, a Ph.D. in computer vision from Belgium’s KU Leuven, and Yang Han, who has previously worked on AI-powered styling at Tencent and SenseTime.

ZMO.ai is spearheading a revolution in the fashion industry by offering an innovative solution to the perennial challenge of hiring and affording models. With their AI-generated models, they are transforming the way e-commerce companies showcase their products, minimizing costs, and providing endless possibilities for virtual testing and promotion. For more information on ZMO.ai and its groundbreaking technology, visit the Ratingperson website.

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