For their latest lingerie campaign, & Other Stories have defied industry standards by casting models with body hair, scars, and tattoos in unretouched photos.
As someone who loves fashion, I must admit that the global fashion industry often seems like an unstoppable and destructive force. Yes, within it we have innovation, extraordinary skill and progressive designs, often more than can be seen in other industries, but we can’t ignore its many faults, either; the horrific labour conditions that are now prevalent in the age of fast fashion, the encouragement of wasteful consumerism, the pollution of the planet and of course, the hot topic of the moment, the constant reinforcement of unachievable beauty standards.
Thankfully, there are a few ethically conscious brands out there who are going against the grain in their advertising, including & Other Stories. The H&M Group owned retailer is known for its simple Scandi aesthetic, and the new campaign isn’t the first of theirs to push the boundaries of typical fashion imagery. Their AW15 campaign featured trans models Hari Nef and Valentjin de Hingh and employed an all-trans creative team to challenge what they refer to as the ‘cisgender gaze’.
Their new lingerie campaign follows suit, featuring three women of varying skin colour and hair texture: blogger/yoga enthusiast Helin Honung, copywriter Ida Jagerfelt and cellist/model Kelsey Ly McJunkins, who happen to have what are admittedly still conventionally attractive, yet diverse bodies.
The brand are, in their own words, attempting to ‘portray a more diverse view on the traditional notion of beauty.’
What’s truly refreshing here are the relaxed poses and imperfections that defy the unrealistic glamour that is forced down our throats and into our subconscious day in, day out. All of these factors combined help to remove the male gaze from the equation to produce a line specifically for the enjoyment (and empowerment) of women. It also helps that the undergarments themselves are gorgeous and look extremely comfortable. Elastic eschews underwire in soft bras that sit alongside pretty printed sets and lace bodies, all for a very affordable price.
& Other Stories aren’t the only ones revolutionizing the lingerie game, with feminist lines popping up everywhere, including body conscious brands Neon Moon, Lonely Lingerie, and Nubian Skin (the latter are redefining the meaning of “nude”) to name but a few.
Whilst we’re really excited about seeing more varied bodies in mainstream fashion, we can’t help but think that we’re far from done in this area. The & Other Stories campaign in particular still fails to portray a range of body sizes, and we’d love to see them go even further in future campaigns.
Very recently, lawmakers in France created a bill that requires models to prove they are at a healthy weight by showing a certificate of health signed by a doctor, and it also dictates that retouched images must be clearly labeled as such. We can only hope that these changes are symptomatic of a larger global shift in fashion advertising and imagery, and that one day, this story won’t seem like a big deal at all.
By Alice Hudson