Clothing brand American Eagle announced in January that it would not airbrush models for its underwear and lingerie line, Aerie. The strategy seems to be paying off: the company’s second-quarter earnings show that while sales overall decreased by 7%, Aerie’s sales rose by 9% compared to a 2% decrease in the same quarter last year.
Of course, there are other reasons for the bump in Aerie sales, like the tactic of selling Aerie products alongside other American Eagle clothing, rather than in their own standalone stores. But the brand’s decision to portray women as they are, is a popular one. “We’ve left everything. We’ve left beauty marks, we’ve left tattoos,” as Aerie’s style and fit expert Jenny Altman told Good Morning America in January. (Via Business Insider.)
It’s also a good practical move, because online shoppers who look at the clothes can see how they fit on someone closer to their body type.
American Eagle isn’t the only brand to quit airbrushing models. British department store Debenhams announced in 2010 that it would stop using airbrushing swimwear models, and last year added lingerie to that list.
Body care brand Dove’s real beauty campaign was one of the first to highlight how airbrushing distorts reality, with billboards showing women with a diverse set of body types and a series of videos meant to change how women see beauty and themselves—and to increase the brand’s reputation and sales).
Dove’s sales increased almost 20% the year after the campaign launched, and the brand received plenty of accolades, but that leveled out over the next few years. Sales earlier in 2014 were at $4 billion, compared to $2.5 billion in 2004 when the campaign launched.
Then there’s American Apparel, which has never airbrushed its models but still manages to come out with ads that offend pretty much everyone.