Nobody expects a fast fashion chain to be both inclusive of all walks of life and sustainable in its ideals, but H&M has surprised everyone with its ‘Close the Loop’ ad. People of almost every religion, size and gender are featured, looking sleek and stylish in the company’s gears.
In fashion advertising, stereotypes come into play a lot.
Clothes are traditionally modelled by white, tall, waif-like women and muscular men with clearly defined genders and minimal body fat.
But as spokespeople come forward for the vast group of people that don’t fit into those categories, brands are transitioning into more inclusive advertising.
The ad by H&M and Forsman and Bodenfors features people of various religions, ethnicities, ages, genders and sizes looking stylish and at ease in its clothing.
The ad aims to empower and encourage people to be comfortable with who they are and what they look like.
There’s a man in a skirt, a woman in a men’s suit and a transgender woman featured, which is a bold move by H&M.
Some more conservative types may be shocked, but the ad is tapping into changing societal norms now there are people like Ruby Rose, an actor who is gender neutral, and Caitlin Jenner, a transgender woman, in the spotlight.
American plus-sized model Tess Holliday is also featured, showing retailers are realising people of all sizes want to be represented in advertising.
Tess Holliday. Picture / YouTube
This was learnt the hard way by Victoria’s Secret, which ran a campaign that had the words ‘The perfect body” emblazoned over a line of skinny models.
Over 33,000 people signed a petition in the UK that said the marketing stunt was a form of body shaming, so the slogan was changed to “A body for everybody”.
Meanwhile, lingerie brand Adore Me did an advertising experiment and found plus-size models are more likely to sell underwear than slim models.
The experiment found a plus-sized model generated four times as many sales as the ad featuring skinny models.
A marketing professor has even come out and said that brands that go for the “thin ideal” model could be alienating up to 70 percent of their audience.
The H&M ad ends with, “There are no rules in fashion but one: recycle your clothes” and tells customers to leave unwanted clothes in any of their 3300 stores to be recycled.
This is part of its sustainability initiative, which it launched in 2013.
After much criticism following reports workers were passing out at its clothing factories and being barely paid a wage, it changed its ways.
At the time, its head of sustainability promised that the company, which is the world’s second largest clothing retailer, would aim to pay all textile workers a living wage by 2018.
According to the fast fashion brand, it has recycled 260 billion pounds of unwanted clothing since then.
‘Close the gap’ refers to H&M’s initiative with DoSomething.org this year to get college campuses interested in recycling.
College teams compete to recycle the most clothing and win a $2,000 scholarship, a new laptop and other prizes.
Patagonia also promoted recycling in its Worn Wear campaign and implored people not to buy a jacket back in 2012.