Forget taking jeans off in a launderette to soul music – Levi’s will now be using AI models to show off their denim.
The company has joined forces with a digital fashion studio that builds customized AI-generated models.
Levi’s parent company LS&Co. says they are planning tests of the technology later this year to use the AI models to supplement human models.
They explained it will increase “the number and diversity of our models for our products in a sustainable way.”
Dutch digital fashion studio Lalaland.ai use advanced artificial intelligence to enable fashion brands and retailers to create hyper-realistic models of every body type, age, size and skin tone.
LS&Co. said in a statement: “With these body-inclusive avatars, the company aims to create a more inclusive, personal and sustainable shopping experience for fashion brands, retailers and customers.”
Dr. Amy Gershkoff Bolles, global head of digital and emerging technology strategy at Levi Strauss & Co., commented: “While AI will likely never fully replace human models for us, we are excited for the potential capabilities this may afford us for the consumer experience.
“We see fashion and technology as both an art and a science, and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Lalaland.ai, a company with such high-quality technology that can help us continue on our journey for a more diverse and inclusive customer experience.”
LS&Co. said “Today, when you shop on Levi.com or in our app, we generally have one model for each product.
“We know our customers want to shop with models who look like them, and we believe our models should reflect our consumers, which is why we’re continuing to diversify our human models in terms of size and body type, age and skin color.
“This AI technology can potentially assist us by supplementing models and unlocking a future where we can enable customers to see our products on more models that look like themselves, creating a more personal and inclusive shopping experience.
“Diversity, equity and inclusion is a top priority for us at LS&Co., and it’s important to note we do not see AI-generated models as a sole solution. In fact, over the past year, we’ve been focused on ensuring that not only is our work diverse, but those working on the content both in front of and behind the camera are reflective of our broad consumer base — and we’re continuing to do just that.”
On the heels of one of California’s wettest winters on record, Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday announced that he will roll back some of the state’s most severe drought restrictions and dramatically increase water supplies for agencies serving 27 million people.
The governor also rescinded a March 2022 order requiring urban water suppliers to activate Level 2 of their water shortage contingency plans, which indicates a shortage of 20% and prompts increased conservation actions.
Newsom made the announcement at a ranch in the green Dunnigan Hills in Yolo County, north of Sacramento, where rice and almond farmers were celebrating the wet winter and have been able to recharge some groundwater supplies this season for crops.
But Newsom stopped short of declaring that the drought is over, saying some parts of his drought emergency order remain important as California adapts to volatile weather patterns and the looming possibility of another long dry spell.
“It’s incumbent upon us to continue to maintain our vigilance and maintain some provisions of the executive order to allow for fast tracking of groundwater replenishment projects, stormwater capture and recycling programs here in the state of California,” he said.
Provisions around wasteful use will remain in place, including prohibitions on watering lawns within 48 hours of rainfall and using hoses without shut-off nozzles. A ban on watering nonfunctional turf at commercial and industrial properties is also unchanged.
A series of drenching storms at the start of this year helped ease some of the most extreme drought conditions in the state, refilling rivers and reservoirs and delivering near-record snowpack in the Sierra Nevada.
State water agencies — which were girding to receive only 35% of requested supplies from the State Water Project this year — will now get 75%, officials from the Department of Water Resources said. The State Water Project is a vast network of reservoirs, canals and dams that acts as a major component of California’s water system.
“We’ve been able to do this because of the series of winter storms that have really provided robust flows throughout the system,” said John Yarbrough, assistant deputy director at DWR.
At a 35% allocation, the agency would have delivered about 1.4 million acre-feet of water to its 29 member agencies, Yarbrough said. The increase will “more than double that amount” to about 3.1 million acre-feet. An acre-foot is approximately 326,000 gallons.
The allocation could increase even more in April, Yarbrough said. However, he and other officials stressed that the governor’s emergency proclamation was being modified — not removed.
“We’re modifying it as opposed to eliminating it because first, there are portions of the state that continue to experience acute water shortages,” said California Natural Resources Secretary Wade Crowfoot. That includes the Klamath Basin in far Northern California and portions of Southern California that depend on the Colorado River, he said.
“We’re also maintaining yet modifying the proclamation because there are continued emergency impacts and drought conditions across the state, including … communities and households that lack drinking water coming out of their taps,” Crowfoot said.
Still, the change was welcome news after a grueling, bone-dry three years wrought devastation on the lives and businesses of millions of Californians.
Newsom administration officials said provisions centered on groundwater supplies will also remain in place, including those that enable the state to assist communities with dry wells and respond to emergencies as needed.
The provisions reflect that “we continue to have a groundwater drought, a groundwater deficit,” said Joaquin Esquivel, chair of the State Water Resources Control Board.
Despite the surface water surplus, deficits in groundwater won’t be remedied by a single wet year, he said.
Crowfoot said removing the 15% voluntary reduction is part of a larger goal to move away from numeric targets and focus on a “more durable approach” to making conservation a way of life.
“It’s not about going back to normal anymore — it’s really adjusting to a new normal, and that is intensifying extremes,” Crowfoot said. He said he would not declare the drought over.
“If we declared the drought over and removed any emergency provisions, we would be unable to quickly and effectively provide support where those conditions still exist,” he said, such as providing bottled water supplies to communities whose wells have run dry.
Water managers said they are working to boost the state’s ability to capture and store water and to modernize infrastructure under the governor’s Strategy for a Hotter, Drier California, unveiled last August. Those efforts include recent moves to divert more than 600,000 acre-feet of water from the swollen San Joaquin River to help replenish groundwater basins in the Central Valley.
But state officials also acknowledged that Southern California’s other major source — the Colorado River — remains in dire condition.
The river is a water lifeline that supplies about 40 million people, but drought and overuse have left its reservoirs dangerously low, with water managers warning that Lake Mead could soon drop below its lowest intake valve and effectively cut off supplies for the American West.
Parents with young kids or those expecting a child may wonder: What financial steps should I take to set my family up for success?
Here are four of the top considerations, according to Rianka Dorsainvil, a certified financial planner and co-CEO of 2050 Wealth Partners. Dorsainvil is also a member of CNBC’s Advisor Council.
More from Ask an Advisor
Here are more FA Council perspectives on how to navigate this economy while building wealth.
1. Save for future education costs
There are tax-advantaged ways to save for your child’s future education.
Among the most popular is the 529 plan, which allows parents to invest money for higher education and other costs. The investment grows tax-free, and withdrawals are also tax-free if used for “qualified” expenses.
Qualified costs include enrollment at a college or university, books, computers, and room and board,, among others. They also include up to $10,000 a year of tuition at a private K-12 school, and up to $10,000 on student loan repayments during one’s lifetime.
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One big benefit, Dorsainvil said: Parents can easily change the account beneficiary later if their kid decides not to attend college. That new beneficiary can come from a host of family members. Parents can also withdraw the funds for other purposes, but would owe income tax and a 10% tax penalty on the investment earnings.
While each state has its own 529 plan, parents can invest in a plan outside of their state. Parents might miss out on a state tax break by doing so, but the most important factor when picking a plan is the investment quality, Dorsainvil said.
For example, parents should generally avoid funds with consistent negative returns and with an annual fee (known as an “expense ratio”) exceeding 0.5%, she said.
Parents also shouldn’t save for a child’s education at the expense of their own financial wellbeing, Dorsainvil said.
“There’s no loan for retirement,” she said. “So while it’s super important for our clients to save for our children’s education, we want to make sure they’re putting their financial oxygen mask on first and that they’re saving for their own retirement.”
2. Invest on your child’s behalf
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Parents who want to invest money for their kids — and not have their funds sitting in cash at the bank — can do so in custodial brokerage accounts.
For example, UGMA and UTMA accounts are held in the name of a minor but controlled by a parent until legal adulthood. That ranges from 18 to 21 years old, depending on the state. (The acronyms stand for Uniform Gifts to Minors Act and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act, respectively.)
One caveat: Once the beneficiary reaches adulthood, the money is theirs. Gifts and transfers made to these accounts can’t be revoked. The beneficiary can then use the money for any purpose.
“I think parents should ask, do they want to relinquish ownership of this money when their child is an adult?” Dorsainvil said. “That is the key question.”
There are other avenues for parents to invest for their kids, but they may be more challenging. For example, parents can set up a Roth individual retirement account for a minor, but the child must have earned income to do so, Dorsainvil said.
3. Update or prepare an estate plan
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A common misconception is that only the rich need wills and other estate documents — but it’s important for any parent to have a will, Dorsainvil said.
A will is a legal document that shares what you’d like to have done with your belongings and other assets in the event of your death.
Where this especially comes into play for parents with minor children: There’s a guardianship clause in wills that answers the question of who the parent would want to have physical custody of their children should anything happen to them, Dorsainvil said.
If both parents pass away early and there’s no living guardian, the state or court will generally decide — absent a will — what happens to the child, Dorsainvil said.
“I’m pretty sure every parent knows what they want to happen to their kid if they’re no longer there,” she said.
4. Use a dependent care flexible spending account
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Dependent care flexible spending accounts are a tax-advantaged way to save for annual costs of childcare.
Dependents and programs must meet various criteria for parents to qualify for the tax break. For example, children must be under age 13; programs like piano or dance lessons, overnight camps and kindergarten tuition are ineligible.
Earmarking funds in a pre-tax account reduces your taxable income, since you don’t pay tax on those contributions.
You can also use the accounts to reimburse yourself for qualified expenses you’re paying out of pocket.
A Florida charter school principal said she was forced to resign this week after some parents complained about their sixth-grade students being shown images of Michelangelo’s “David” statue in class, with one parent believing the art lesson on the Renaissance masterpiece amounted to pornographic material.
Hope Carrasquilla of Tallahassee Classical School in Leon County, Fla., said she offered her resignation during an emergency school board meeting on Monday after she was given an ultimatum by the board to resign or be fired, according to the Tallahassee Democrat. The principal said she was not given a reason she was asked to resign, but believes complaints the school board received from parents over the lesson on the Michelangelo statue played a role in what happened.
“It is with a sad heart that my time as the principal of Tallahassee Classical School has come to an end,” she wrote in a Thursday letter to the school board that was obtained by The Washington Post.
Barney Bishop III, the chair of the school board and a lobbyist, confirmed to The Post that he gave Carrasquilla an ultimatum following complaints from three parents who believed the material on “David” was “controversial” and not age-appropriate for their children. Bishop, who did not give a reason he asked for Carrasquilla to resign on the advice of the school’s lawyers, told The Post that there were several issues with the principal, including not notifying parents ahead of time that their children would be shown the Renaissance art.
“She wasn’t let go because of the artistic nude pictures. We show it every year to our students,” Bishop said, adding that Carrasquilla “voluntarily resigned.” “The problem with this particular issue was the lack of follow-through on the process.”
Tallahassee Classical, which follows a curriculum from Hillsdale College, the conservative, Christian institution in Michigan that has helped launch dozens of “classical” charter schools nationwide, is required to teach Renaissance art to sixth-graders. The lesson featuring “David” also included images of “The Creation of Adam” fresco painting and “Birth of Venus” by Botticelli.
Carrasquilla acknowledged in the letter to the school board that she did not notify parents about the lesson before images of “David” were shown in class. The former principal noted to the Democrat that while two parents were bothered by not being notified, one parent thought their child was being exposed to pornography.
Her husband, Victor Carrasquilla, rejected the school board’s action in forcing out his spouse in a short phone call with The Post, describing his wife as “a strong evangelical Christian” who should not have been forced to resign.
The parental backlash over “David” comes at a time when the state’s K-12 and higher education is possibly being reshaped through a spate of new Republican-sponsored bills that have been championed by Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a potential Republican presidential candidate in 2024.
Debates have surged nationwide since the pandemic over what and how children should be taught about race, racism, gender and sexual orientation and the rights of transgender students — as well as the appropriateness of books available in school libraries and classrooms. Although the conflicts have touched at least half the country, inspiring 25 states to pass 64 laws reshaping what children can learn and do at school, Florida has been a particular hot spot. DeSantis has won national political attention and praise for his hard-line stance on eradicating what he calls “woke” left-leaning ideologies from schools.
DeSantis has enacted two high-profile bills on education: One that limited education on gender identity and sexual orientation to fourth grade and above and another that prohibited certain ways of teaching about race. DeSantis and his Education Department also rejected an Advanced Placement course on Black history, declaring it had no educational value and promoted left-leaning political and social views.
Among the bills filed in recent weeks by Republican lawmakers is House Bill 1069, which would grant parents greater power to read over and object to school instructional materials, as well as limit their child’s ability to explore the school library. The bill sponsored by state Rep. Stan McClain (R) would also require that instruction on sexual health, such as health education, sexually transmitted diseases and human sexuality, “only occur in grades 6 through 12.” The proposed sexual health bill gained attention last week after McClain acknowledged that the proposal would ban girls from talking about their menstrual cycles in school.
When Tallahassee Classical opened in the fall of 2020, the K-12 school stated on its website that its mission was “to train the minds and improve the hearts of young people through a content-rich classical education in the liberal arts and sciences, with instruction in the principles of moral character and civic virtue.” Tallahassee Classical had been advised by Hillsdale College, which has raised money by pushing back on what the institution describes as “leftist” academics teaching a “biased and distorted” view of U.S. history, according to the New York Times. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas once called Hillsdale College “a shining city on a hill,” and the school hired his activist wife, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, to help establish a full-time presence in the nation’s capital.
Hillsdale College dropped Tallahassee Classical last year as a member school for not meeting its improvement standards, but the Florida school did regain its curriculum status.
A longtime resident of Tallahassee, Hope Carrasquilla was named principal of Tallahassee Classical less than a year ago after serving as the dean of curriculum and instruction. The school celebrated her 27 years of teaching experience, including 10 years of classical education experience, in her biography, which has been removed from Tallahassee Classical’s website.
“She is excited to help shape the hearts and minds of the young scholars at Tallahassee Classical School for the sake of making our community and country a better place,” the biography reads.
Among the art lessons to sixth-graders was one on Michelangelo’s “David,” a sculpture built between 1501 and 1504 by one of the Renaissance’s greatest artists that has long been a symbol of the strength and independence of the Florentines, according to the Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze, home of the statue in Florence.
Bishop said he does not think “David” is controversial, noting that he studied Renaissance art in Italy 50 years ago. He added that while 97 percent of the parents had no problem with the art class, Bishop emphasized that parents’ rights and concerns on what their children are being taught trump whatever he thinks about the lesson.
“I listened to what the parents had to say and have been in communication with them constantly, but I didn’t ask what was controversial, and I know I’m not going to change their opinion on that,” he said.
The lack of communication to parents was part of a litany of issues against Carrasquilla, Bishop claimed, saying he was not required to get into his concerns with the former principal. However, some parents were surprised when a last-minute emergency board meeting was scheduled for Monday at 7 a.m. to determine Carrasquilla’s fate, saying it was part of a larger “paradigm shift” at the school.
“It’s starting to feel like the school is becoming part of an agenda,” Carrie Boyd, a parent who has two children at Tallahassee Classical, told the Democrat.
Bishop, who said the lessons on “David” would continue to be taught at the school with proper notification to the parents, did not push back that the school was aligned with DeSantis’s vision for education in the state.
“I applaud the governor, and we support the governor on his educational agenda in Florida,” Bishop told The Post. “Parental rights are supreme.”
Critics such as Jen Cousins of the Florida Freedom to Read Project, which fights against schoolbook challenges in the state, told The Post that the principal getting pushed out constitutes needless censorship of classical art.
“This is more of the same overreach restricting our kids’ educations,” Cousins wrote in a text message. “Are fine arts the next thing on the chopping block in Florida?”
Tallahassee Classical announced to parents this week that Cara Wynn would be its interim headmaster, the third principal at the school since it opened, Bishop said.
In her letter to the board, Carrasquilla said that the issues with the board run much deeper than the concerns over “David,” and urged the schools leaders to adhere to the state’s Sunshine Law to govern proper public meetings in cases like hers.
“I have always desired good for Tallahassee Classical School,” she wrote. “I am not about promoting myself or a political agenda.”
As the story unfolded this week, many observers online noted how “The Simpsons” predicted long ago what a parental backlash against Michelangelo’s famed statue would look like. Some pointed to the question posed by the character Kent Brockman about “David” as a summary of what’s happening at Tallahassee Classical: “Is it a masterpiece or just some guy with his pants down?”