Is Lil Miquela real? The influencer’s origins

By Chege Karomo — ON Aug 17, 2022
Lil Miquela
lilmiquela/Instagram

PacSun recently announced its face for the 2022 holiday and back-to-school campaign: Lil Miquela, an influencer who has previously partnered with Prada and Calvin Klein and locked lips with model Gigi Hadid during a campaign for Dior. It’s quite an impressive CV for a person who isn’t real. 

Her reality notwithstanding, PacSun believes they’ve found the right person to spearhead their campaign. Brieane Olson, PacSun’s president, said:

“Miquela has become a digital muse for PacSun, and we’re thrilled to be working with a great example of a strong female advocate and inspiration. She aligns with our core brand values and vision… speaking out on important social issues like BLM and Rally the Vote.”

Lil Miquela is a virtual character created by Los Angeles firm Brud

Lil Miquela
lilmiquela/Instagram

Without prior knowledge about Lil Miquela’s origin, you would scroll through her Instagram page thinking she was a real person. She’s the quintessential influencer: on trend with the latest poses, wearing the latest fashion, frolicking with her love interest, and taking perfect photographs. 

Miquela is in her late teens, has a thin torso, freckles lining her cheeks, a gap-toothed grin, and over three million followers on Instagram. She is a brand marketing team’s dream, yet she isn’t real. 

Lil Miquela is perhaps the most famous virtual influencer. All the images and videos you see featuring Miquela are digitally made. She may cast a shadow, dine at famous hotels, and post movie-going outfits, but you’ll never bump into her on the streets of Los Angeles, where the 19-year-old claims to ‘live.’

At this point, you are probably as confused as we were (and probably still are). It would be easier to wrap your head around Miquela’s virtual nature if she didn’t look so real and pose with actual celebrities. In March 2022, Miquela’s Instagram page featured a photo of her enjoying tea with Stephanie Shepherd alongside the following caption:

“I had to schedule tea time with my angel @steph_shep and get some tips on how to keep it cute and not continue to unravel on my Insta feed. She always makes me feel better.”

Lil Miquela’s creators, an L.A. firm named Brud, ties collaborating influencers with NDAs to prevent them from sharing details about Miquela’s content creation process. 

It’s easy to see why virtual influencers like Miquela attract fashion brands. Miquela will remain forever 19, will do exactly what her creators ask, and clothes will always fit as expected. Via a press release, Miquela expressed her excitement about her upcoming collaboration with PacSun:

“I’m so excited to be working with PacSun on this campaign. As a fan of their fits, vibes, and vision, I couldn’t be happier to partner up as we explore what the future of fashion and culture looks like for a new generation.”