Aerie Carves New Commercial Body Positivity Benchmark
US lingerie brand Aerie is showing the rest of the advertising industry how inclusive imagery is done – including not patting themselves on the back for taking action.
The brand's latest online product pages include women with a range of disabilities, illnesses, ethnicities, ages and shapes. Wheelchairs, crutches, insulin pumps for Type 1 Diabetes, ostomy bags and mastectomies feature among the diverse group of women of all backgrounds, ages and sizes seen sporting the full product range – from bralets to performance wear.
Instead of orchestrating a big launch to shout about the new visuals, the brand simply added them to existing product pages – doubtlessly counting on customers to share them on social feeds in their own time. Response was vocal and overwhelmingly positive, with advocacy groups lauding the casual inclusion, and many people saying this was the first time they saw themselves in commercial imagery.
The move is a continuation of Aerie's previous efforts to shift the needle when it comes to keeping it real. In 2014, the #AerieReal campaign abandoned retouching its models, revealing the realities of stretch marks, scars, and all the ways flesh organically bunches and spills when even the trimmest bodies twist and bend – a move that led to drastic sales growth.
The takeaway is as straightforward as Aerie's approach: if a brand expects to sell to any type of consumer, it has to make every type of life experience a part of its brand identity. For more on navigating inclusive branding, check out No Offence: Speak the Language of Now and A Fashion A'woke'ning.