October 23, 2012

Consumers favoring relatable over aspirational images

Posted by: in North America

The New York Times reports this week on Rent the Runway’s move to showcase photos from customers wearing the site’s designer dresses. Women can see how each style looks on different body types and ages (one example) or, since customers input their measurements, they can narrow searches to view only similarly sized users. The idea isn’t new, but it’s something we’ll see a lot more of as consumers come to favor “real” images and models—the relatable rather than the aspirational.

Two years ago we spotlighted how Ann Taylor’s Loft brand smartly responded to a Facebook question about whether a new style could work for “real women”; the next day, Loft posted pictures of differently shaped staffers wearing the pants in question. But many marketers have been slow to understand this shift, especially the more upmarket brands that have long relied on aspirational imagery. That’s slowly changing, thanks in part to the popularity of street-style blogs like The Sartorialist, as The Guardian points out. A fall Lanvin campaign features a collection of quirky “real people” aged 16 to 80-plus (the older models demonstrate our trend Celebrating Aging). Brands in other categories are also making changes, like Special K, which has said “real women” will replace its iconic slim red-clad model in some marketing.

Image credit: Rent the Runway

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