In a moment of
procrastination research into my professional wardrobe, I went onto the Topshop website and was greeted with the below:
Ivy Park, which for anyone that doesn’t follow fitness-fashion is Beyonce & Topshop’s activewear line, have launched this season’s range with some models who don’t fit the usual bill. The four ‘icons’ are:
Laverne Cox – most known for her role in ‘Orange is the new Black’ Laverne Cox is the first openly transgender actress to be nominated for a primetime Emmy, appear on the cover of Time magazine AND have a wax figure at Madame Tussauds (the highest heights).
Grace Bol – Grace was born in South Sudan before moving to Kansas City in the US. Still young, she has opened shows for Hermes and been profiled in Vogue and i.D.
Ralph Souffrant – Born in Haiti, Ralph moved to Brooklyn aged 9 where he was spotted by photographer Aaron Taylor and became the focus of a successful Instagram account. He is now signed to a professional agency and walked for the Yeezy Season 3 show.
Karen McDonald – not the one from Coronation Street, who first pops up in Google… this Karen McDonald is a dancer who, now in her 60s, has been choreographing for over 40years. She trained in Harlem and started on Broadway. Her grey hair and physique make for an impressive combination.
The campaign ambition was to “celebrate everyone’s uniqueness” with the headline shot displaying strength in a refreshingly empowering way.
When you boil it down, 50% of these ‘new icons’ are models, but their variety of backgrounds and unique appearance makes for a positive story. The decision to profile ‘people’ rather than professional athletes allows fitness to feel much more achievable and less intimidating.
Conversations are happening all the time about diversity and what that looks like, how we make sure we’re considering it through our advertising. Sometimes those conversations feel a bit frustrating because really, there shouldn’t be such a need to have the debate. Just do it. Just make sure having a cast reflective of our Global society, is a mandatory, rather than a discussion point. However it tends to be the case that if you’re not positively discriminating, you may well be sub-consciously negatively discriminating.
Hopefully lots of other brands will follow the example set by Ivy Park and keep mixing up their models.