NEW FEATURE ROLLOUT
Rhiannon D’Averc considers ASOS’ recent update, featuring models of all shapes and sizes.
The latest buzz in online shopping is not a particular dress of uncertain colours, or this season’s must-have statement accessory. No – it’s a web retail portal’s decision to change the way that they feature their models.
ASOS have taken the latest step in what has been a long-running journey of inclusivity. Their prior efforts have included the creation of a gender neutral clothing collection, a ban on the use of Photoshop in product imaging, and a controversial decision to stock sizes both higher and lower than the norm. While they faced criticism from some corners for the launch of size 2 clothing, this latest update has been attracting nothing but praise.
They have taken the decision to shoot some items of clothing on multiple models, so that buyers can see the outfit on different shapes, sizes, and skin tones. The featured models range from petite to plus-sized, and cover a wide array of races.
A statement from the company read,”We’re always testing new technology that can make our customers’ experience even better. In this case, we’re experimenting with AR (augmented reality) to show product on different size models, so customers can get a better sense of how something might fit their body shape.”
Many customers took to Twitter and other social networks to share their positive thoughts on this latest change. Although not all items on the site were included in the initial launch, more are being added to the site with time.
This could be just one part of the latest wave of inclusivity that has lately seemed to be unstoppable. With gender equality being called for more urgently than ever before, a new spotlight has been shone on the cultural practices we all follow – and how to make them more comfortable for the women in our society. Not only that, but to make the experience of being a woman comfortable in itself – so that women can love and accept themselves for who they are. Steps like this, which reject the ‘perfect’ ideal of a leggy blonde model with a flat stomach, take us further in that direction than ever before.
Of course, there is always another side to every story. The cynic may protest that all of the women chosen to model the clothes are still beautiful – hardly the average girl you would pass on the street. They might also protest that we are reaching a new age of political correctness gone mad, where retailers have to shoot each item of clothing 8 different ways in order to avoid offending potential customers.
Then again, those cynics would be overlooking a very important point. Representation is not something that you can miss unless you don’t have it; not something that you even consider if it is already yours. But many people don’t see that representation in mainstream media.
This is the very reason why phenomenons like the Black Panther film – starring actors of colour in lead roles as superheroes, and filling a large percentage of the cast – have proven so popular.
Rather than letting this wave pass by, ASOS are doing the right thing by jumping on board. They are demonstrating that they care about their customers – and they want their customers to feel recognised. As they showed previously, during the controversy over their size 2 stock, their goal is to make as many customers feel included as possible, rather than allowing anyone to feel marginalised while browsing their site.
It’s simply good business sense – but of course, few other online retailers have caught on thus far. We’ll go on record to predict that the status quo will not remain much longer: other retailers will adopt this strategy, and if they’re smart, they will do it fast.
It’s a powerful experience to see a curvy Asian woman, or a bald female model, or a male model wearing the same as a female. It’s powerful because we are starting to see these things being represented more and more. For every curvy Asian woman, or bald woman, or gender fluid person sitting at home looking at their screen, it’s a reminder that they aren’t alone in the world.
And, just maybe, it’s a way for them to shop with more confidence that the clothes will actually look good on them, too.
All images via Asos/Twitter
5 FASHION FORWARD STEPS FOR ASOS & INCLUSIVITY
- Big range of plus-size clothing
- Introduction of sizing down to UK 2
- Ban on use of Photoshop
- Gender-neutral clothing
- Models of different shapes, colours, and sizes