We’ve lost count of the number of stories we’ve written about the need for greater diversity in fashion. And nowhere is that need more felt than in the lingerie industry where the sexy = skinny rule seems to reign supreme in the vast majority of underwear advertising.
But one inclusive lingerie brand is making a stand against this body-perfect approach by releasing a campaign to celebrate real women in all their diverse beauty.
Earlier this year, Curvy Kate, a body-positive lingerie brand, announced the launch of their #TheNewSexy campaign for their Scantilly range. Choosing to shun professional models, instead the brand enlisted eight powerful female role models including a transgender woman, an amputee, an alopecia sufferer, a plus size blogger and a recovered anorexic to showcase the collection.
Now, in a bid to highlight that the battle to increase diversity in the fashion industry hasn’t yet been won, the brand have released their second #TheNewSexy campaign. And it’s every bit as inspirational.
Following the overwhelming success of the first campaign, the original stars were invited to select the next generation of inspiring models. Through this ‘Pay-it-forward’ system, eight women were chosen to be photographed in the new Scantilly boudoir collection.
The campaign features a variety of women of all shapes, sizes, abilities, ages, skin tones and backgrounds.
Gemma Flanagan suffers from Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an auto-immune disease that has left her mostly wheel-chair bound. Since her diagnosis five years ago when she was left paralysed, the 33-year-old has had to completely rebuild her life, re-learning ‘normal’ functions again. But it hasn’t stopped her striving to do her bit for diversity.
“The world we live in is diverse but yet the fashion industry is a very ‘perfect cookie cutter’ type world that is so un-relatable to the majority of people,” she says. “We are the customers and we buy the clothes but we are not all represented. The industry is so powerful and has so much influence over us all that it should take more responsibility for the images it portrays. Diversity isn’t a novelty that should be ‘used’. It should just be the norm.”
Paige Billiot, 24, who was born with a ‘Port-Wine Stain’ birthmark across her face and head, took part in the campaign, to show that it is our imperfections that make us beautiful.
“When I was young I absolutely hated my birthmark. I would have done anything to be normal like everyone else because I was always surrounded with media telling me what beauty was. It made me feel like being different was wrong,” she said. “Then I started to change and not care anymore. I started to accept myself, understand who I am, and then embrace it. That’s why #TheNewSexy is such a strong movement, that is long overdue. Everyone is sexy and unfortunately a lot of people don’t realise that, and these beauty standards that have been forced on us for quite some time don’t help that.”
Starring alongside Gemma and Paige in the campaign is Yasmin Taylor, 24, who suffers from Alopecia, Carla Atherton, 34, a Breast Cancer ‘Previvor’ who after finding out she carried the BRCA gene opted to undergo a double mastectomy, Diana Sirokai, 20, a plus size model and body positive activist and Janet Rook, 65 from Essex who took part in the campaign to prove that women can be sexy at any age.
Both Shorntay Allen, 31, and Seema Patel, 34, were thrilled to be chosen for the campaign to represent their Caribbean and Indian heritage.
“I don’t feel like women of colour make up nearly enough of the mainstream media and as a result, I 100% feel under-represented as a young black woman,” explains Shorntay. “Having a greater representation of non-white models/actors/actresses/people in mainstream media will not only help encourage acceptance, but teach the younger generation that we live in a world where EVERYONE is valued and should be treated respectfully.”
Speaking of the second instalment of #TheNewSexycampaign Curvy Kate head of PR and marketing Hannah Isichei explained that the fight to increase diversity in the fashion industry is ongoing.
“Our brand ethos is to make Women feel Fabulous – that doesn’t just mean one woman, that means all women regardless of age, height, look, shape or ability,” she said. “When we launched as a brand we could never find a model who looked like our customers. Our customer base is made up of so many different women that we wanted to represent this diversity, so that they all have someone they can relate to. That’s why we didn’t want the campaign to be a one off. It’s not a gimmick or stunt, we believe that images like this should become the ‘norm’.”
“Our dream is that diverse images like this are seen everywhere. For example in the UK 1 in 5 people have a disability – yet how many images do you see featuring any model with a disability? The same can be said for WOC, over 50’s and more. We all need someone who we relate to, so why is that currently so hard to find?”
Hannah says Curvy Kate will continue to use a range of models in their campaigns in the future.
“We’ve already had women writing to us to appear in next year’s campaign, so it’s exciting to think who will star in the 2017 campaign.”
The fourth Scantilly collection is available through curvykate.com www.curvykate.com, Debenhams, Bare Necessities and Figleaves. The range is available in sizes DD-HH cups and S-XL and includes peep-hole briefs, sexy suspenders, half cup balcony bras and sheer basques.
What do you think of the campaign? Let us know @YahooStyleUK