‘Loud and proud': How social media pushed retail to be more body-positive
Over 100 years after it was founded, retailer Lane Bryant is finding its voice. And it has legions of vocal plus-size women to thank.
Once a maternity catalog brand, the plus-sized retailer has gradually embraced social media campaigns that spread messages of body positivity. The shift is representative of an eye-opening realization for the brand: its customer — women sizes 14 to 28 — is becoming more outspoken. She’s voicing her opinion, and she’s not interested in hiding behind billowy, formless dresses.
“The plus-size woman is not a dowdy, insecure person,” said Lane Bryant’s CMO Brian Beitler, a former svp at David’s Bridal who joined the company in Oct. 2014. “She’s loud and proud. These women feel beautiful. They’re confident, and they want their fashion to convey that.”
Beitler believes that the company has a responsibility to its customers to reflect and amplify her thoughts and feelings — which, thanks to social media, they can constantly monitor online.
And Lane Bryant isn’t alone. As social media’s community of underserved plus-size consumers strengthens, more retailers are paying attention and shifting strategies to include their voices.
The one brand that can make a statement
Lane Bryant began to rethink its image in 2010 when it launched a TV campaign starring plus-size model Ashley Graham titled “Not What Your Mom Would Wear.” The ads showed a sexier side of the brand, but it hadn’t yet tapped into its customers’ social media conversation.
In April 2015, Lane Bryant came out swinging. It launched the #ImNoAngel campaign with the agency Laird + Partners, which paired black-and-white images of full-figured women in bras and underwear to promote the company’s lingerie line, Cacique. The campaign hashtag took a clear swipe at Victoria’s Secret and its fleet of tall and thin “angels.” It was met with widespread praise online and has since garnered 13 billion impressions.
My sexiness doesn’t happen despite anyone else. It happens because I’m a strong and beautiful woman, there is room for us all. #ImNoAngel
— Brittany Gibbons (@brittanyherself) April 7, 2015
Later in the year, #ImNoAngel was followed by #PlusIsEqual, Lane Bryant’s fall campaign that demonstrated plus-size women deserved fashion-forward clothing designs, too. The retailer joined the conversation not to take advantage of the plus-size community, according to Laird + Partners’ evp and senior creative director Hans Dorsinville, but to back them up.
“We wanted to bring their conversation to light and leverage it in a way that’s not diminishing it, and not using it in a negative way,” he said. “It’s putting a megaphone to it. She was talking, and we want people to hear her.” Since April 2015, Lane Bryant’s three campaigns have generated 123,501 customer uses of the three hashtags, according to Crimson Hexagon data. Lane Bryant also approached several plus-size fashion bloggers to find out what they wanted to see from the retailer.
They weren’t bashful. “We told them to push the envelope,” said Marie Denee, the blogger behind The Curvy Fashionista, who has 85,000 followers on Twitter and Instagram. “We told them they were the …read more