UK Retailer Debenhams go Real with their fashion models

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Imagine a major retailer waking-up one morning and deciding to break convention with their fashion marketing.
Whilst many retail and fashion brands discuss the possibility of featuring ‘real’ models in their marketing campaigns, for the most part they remain discussions only. Dove and Esprit are two brands who have broken ranks over recent times to feature real people in their advertising, but for the most part they fell short of a true cross section of society. And there is good, commercial sense to this trend, after-all we are aspirational beasts. If the guy wearing the shirt looked like me I’m sure I wouldn’t be quite as impressed by the product and the brand behind it. Which makes UK department store Debenham’s recent efforts all-the-more remarkable…

For their lastest look book Debenhams hired unconventional models of a diverse variety of ages, sizes and looks. The retailer which received a Body Confidence Award for their ongoing ‘Inclusivity Campaign’ showcasing inspirational and realistic imagery, believes anyone can look great in their fashion collections, so they decided to back themselves and turn their back on the industry norm of young, wafer thin models.

The campaign photography features an amputee, three models over 40 (can you imagine), a paralympian athlete, and a size 18 model. Whilst the imagery is by no-means a true cross section of the market (they are models after-all), it represents a refreshingly bold approach that is winning them much kudos. As a result of their approach Debenhams now sits on the Government’s ‘Body Confidence Advisory Committee’ – a badge of brand honour that should hold quite some equity in their market.

“Our customers are not the same shape or size so our latest look book celebrates this diversity. We would be delighted if others followed our lead. Hopefully these shots will be a step, albeit a small one, towards more people feeling more comfortable about their bodies,” said Ed Watson, Director of PR, Debenhams.

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But for me the strongest pat-on-the-back comes not from Government awards and recognition, but from the comments of their customers, loyal and new. A quick glimpse on social media turns-up page after page of positive and glowing comments, here are just a few:



Dave Ansett
Chief Cre­ator of Brands
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Spotted on the Debenhams blog
Images from Debenhams.



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