How Are Apparel Brands Embracing Inclusivity in Their Visual Marketing
Remember those models flaunting their ‘perfect’ bodies in fashion magazines? Yes, those women who intimidate you, depress you or perhaps inspire you to be like them and not yourself. Say goodbye to them because these apparel brands are definitely changing the norm of perfection in the fashion industry.
For years, audiences have been fooled into thinking that the people they see in fashion marketing are real even though they have almost impossible-to-achieve body proportions and spotless beauty. However, with time and awareness among audiences, many people became aware that photographs from fashion shoots are heavily manipulated using makeup, lighting, and software tricks.
In this digital age, especially with the advancements of technology like augmented reality, social media platforms and tools have introduced an array of beauty filters that have the ability to conceal and soften the face, make eyes brighter and bigger, inflate lips for a pout-look, and even contour cheeks and noses. There are many more things filters can do.
In order to change this norm, many individuals, brands, and countries are working towards making the beauty, fashion, and accessory industries more inclusive. This way, they are also dealing with issues like body shaming.
Some influencers started an “Instagram versus Reality” campaign whereby they post images split into two headings with an unrealistic and realistic image side-by-side.
Another example is of two friends, Maria Castellanos and Denise Mercedes Marte, of different body sizes and skin colors, who wear similar outfits to show how they look. They use the hashtags #stylenotsize when sharing their TikTok videos.
At the beginning of 2021, the Advertising Standards Authority in the UK refrained influencers from using unrealistic and over-the-top beauty filters for advertising purposes.
Did you know, recently Norway introduced legislation urging advertisers and influencers to declare whether they have retouched or edited their visual content (images and videos).
This is just the beginning of the new dawn of visual marketing.
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Apparel Brands Embracing Body Positivity
While illusory beauty standards are being protested against, let us explore a few apparel brands that are embracing inclusivity and body positivity.
Victoria’s Secret Features ‘Realistic’ Models
Anyone into fashion and beauty will know the track record of Victoria’s Secret. The lingerie and apparel brand has always promoted their fashion lines with models that somehow magically have flawless bodies in their marketing visuals. However, the brand on Instagram is gradually steering towards inclusive campaigns.
Here is another example of the brand breaking the so-called ‘standards’ of beauty that thrive on fantasy. The new CEO of Victoria’s Secret, Martin Waters hinted earlier in May that the company’s new marketing vision will shift focus from him to her. It will aim to include plus-size women.
Visual Marketing Tip: You can edit photos but don’t manipulate models into something they are not. Maintain the sanctity of their natural physique and texture. For this, make sure that you don’t over-do-it on software like Adobe Photoshop when editing raw photographs of models. This is a habit that you need to practice so start restraining yourself from overdoing it.
Athleta Commits To Inclusive Sizing
The company aims to celebrate women of all sizes by committing to inclusivity when it comes to body sizes. The brand aims to introduce more sizes to cater to women of different body mass than the typical slim ones. In addition to this, it will train its employees to undergo training on how to approach communications around inclusivity.
Here is another example of how Athleta is inducing this idea into its branding and marketing efforts. Their website catalog includes larger size models wearing an assortment of their apparel.
Visual Marketing Tip: When designing your online retail catalog, place photographs of women of different sizes beside each other, not to make a comparison but to make the statement that you house all sizes. What we really need to do is to normalize the idea that all body sizes are acceptable, and they will only be if you not make a separate catalog for plus-size people.
Tools for generating catalogs: Catalog Machine, Lucid Press, Flipsnack, Retail Catalog Maker
Tools for catalog templates: Pagination, ZillionDesigns, Graphic River, Behance
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Lane Bryant Celebrates Inclusivity With Pride
This brand launched itself as one that provides clothes for people larger in size. In 2015, they started their “I’m No Angel” campaign to invite women to feel sexy and comfortable in their skins. Then in 2021, they dropped a video campaign Drag Queen Nina West to celebrate yet another kind of inclusivity that is not limited to body sizes. It was a way to welcome the LGBTQ community.
Below is another example of an image from their bright and colorful campaign that Lane Bryant had for Pride Month. In case you don’t know who Nina west is, she is a well-known drag queen and activist from Ohio.
Visual Marketing Tip: No matter the nature of your campaign, make visuals that speak the concept otherwise all your efforts will go to waste. Make sure all design elements like shapes, fonts, and colors align with the marketing idea. The last thing you want is to use a visual that doesn’t represent your concept or vision for the campaign.
Tools for color palettes: Adobe Color, ZillionDesigns Palette Generator, Muzli Color, Color Inspo
Tools for fonts: Google Fonts, Adobe Fonts, Font Fabric, Font Bundles
Tools for shapes: Freepik, Vecteezy, iStock, ZD Favicon Generator
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Aerie’s Sticks to Its Body Positive Marketing
While many fashion brands suffered because of the worldwide effects of coronavirus, the apparel brand owned by American Eagle Outfitters actually did great in 2020. Although the brand was launched back in 2014, it still maintains its marketing vision, which is to promote inclusion in apparel branding and also to empower women.
This summer’s MVP outfit: oversized fleece + bike shorts! We asked a few of our #AerieREAL Ambassadors to style the combo their way. Shop hoodies & sweatshirts: https://t.co/sv6W8sRamG pic.twitter.com/1dvzYeiAl4
— Aerie (@Aerie) June 18, 2021
Note that social media has played a critical role in the journey to embrace diversity: all types of people no matter their body size, skin tone, hairstyle, disability, ethnic background, gender. Platforms like Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube have allowed brands and influencers to spread the message of positivity and inclusivity around the globe faster.
Visual Marketing Tip: On social media, try to be original. Make each post count using attractive and entertaining visuals, branded hashtags, and always create a mood. You can use the different marketing appeals for help such as corporate, old-school, or sexual.
Tools for hashtags: Hashtagify, Keyword Tool, Hash Me, Best Hashtags
Tools for image making: Canva, Placeit, Adobe Spark, Fotor
Nike For Differently-Abled People
Famous brands are also taking the initiative to produce their collections for people who have always been considered as ‘not normal’ by the media and society. However, that mindset is finally changing. Nike is tailoring its clothing line to appeal to customers with diverse body types and shapes. They also started releasing campaign videos for pregnant women, who can still be all sporty despite entering motherhood.
And that isn’t it, in 2018, Nike also did a campaign targeted at hijab-wearing Arab women. After all, their slogan “Just Do It” can be for anyone, right? It should disregard anyone. Anybody can do it that is if they have the will.
Visual Marketing Tip: Don’t waste your video marketing efforts by not getting the message across. Make sure you successfully tell the story you wanted to instead of creating something that goes to waste simply because you couldn’t pull it off. In today’s fashion scene, be creative and think out-of-the-box.
Tools to make videos: Biteable, WeVideo, Promo, Filmora
Platforms for video marketing: YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Vimeo
*Remember to place your fashion apparel logo on each video, to the side, as watermark, or in the center to brand them with your identity.
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So, this is it or is it? The journey has just started. It is a long way but if such brands are consistent, they will be able to change the way people think, yet again. Know that diversity, inclusivity, and body positivity really mean that we acknowledge and embrace all kinds of people in the fashion industry. Although discrimination has been prevalent but visual marketing can help advertisers, marketers, influencers, and brands change peoples’ perception of people.
Do you want to design an inclusive brand identity? Consult us for marketing ideas.
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