Aerie campaign takes embracing beauty a step further

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It took a lot more pictures than usual to build the new online bra guide for aerie, the intimates chain that's part of South Side-based teen clothing retailer American Eagle Outfitters.

Instead of keeping with the industry tradition of showing every style of bra as worn by a model in a B cup, the new guide was created with images of young women wearing each style in cup sizes from A to DD.

The goal, said Dana Seguin, the director of marketing for aerie, is to help shoppers see what the clothing might look like on them -- even if they don't look like a typical lingerie model.

Aerie on Friday unveiled a new marketing campaign called "aerie Real" that picks up on the demand for more realistic images rather than relying on carefully polished portrayals of models who don't reflect the general population of customers.

That has been an ongoing discussion across the clothing industry in recent years. There have been well-publicized campaigns like one last summer when a teenager asked Seventeen magazine to run untouched photos. Israel passed a law banning skinny models from ads. A couple of years ago, aerie was the subject of its own petition on asking it to present more realistic images, although the petition only drew a few hundred signatures.

Ms. Seguin said the retailer's new campaign comes in response to its own customers asking for help. "It was that constant conversation about, how do I find the right bra?" she said.

The marketing campaign's new realism goes beyond showing young women of different shapes and sizes. The retailer is promising not to get rid of the freckles, tattoos, scars and other blemishes that even models are known to have. "We're also not changing proportions," Ms. Seguin said. "That's something a lot of people do."

Models are still being used in the campaign, which was shot in the Miami area last October, but aerie's team requested that rather than just being offered traditional lingerie models -- typically tall, leggy women who fit the sample sizes -- agencies send over models of all sizes and shapes, including those who wouldn't usually get lingerie jobs.

In one other change, the chain -- which shares its customer service call center with parent American Eagle -- has trained a number of the call center staffers specifically to field questions on bra fit issues.

Teresa F. Lindeman: or at 412-263-2018.

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