💪🏽 More than just busine$$ - Activewear branding using average-sized models and athletes.
When I started the TRU ATHLETIC brand, I truly wanted to represent the every-day, active woman living a sporty, Aussie lifestyle. Whether you're 20-something, strong as an ox and in the prime of your sporting career or you're heading towards 40 or *cough* beyond that, I wanted to make sportswear for you.
That's what TRU ATHLETIC is all about.
Even before my first design was put on paper, I swore I would never use models that didn't at least look like they could play a sport. I wasn't going to misrepresent the market by using a model that didn't accurately reflect the average shape I've come to know (and be!). From a literal life-time of playing sport, I felt pretty confident in what a strong, athletic body looked like from an Australian woman's point of view. And my brand was damn well going to represent that. Strong thighs, butts, athletic shoulders and solid torsos - that's what we're designing for.
Cut to today and I'm so proud that I've stuck to my vision. The creation of a sportswear brand with pieces designed specifically to train and play sport in. And I've showcased it at every opportunity using women that actually play sport. Revolutionary.
- Natural looks or no makeup at all;
- No airbrushing to change body proportions or size;
- Only 1 professional model and even she was an elite basketballer;
- Using every-day sporty ladies, ranging in size from 8 to 18; and
- Using ladies ranging in age from late teens to late 30's!
But as I ponder the future of the brand, I wonder has this strategy affected my potential to make more sales? My gut says yes. It probably has. In my opinion, the trend of using thinner and thinner models and the subsequent pressures we ladies now put on ourselves - subconsciously or not - has truly changed what we see as inspirational, as well as, aspirational body types.
For instance, I used this image (above) of my 20-something, Australian size 8/10, every-day sporty lady as the backdrop for a stall at a trade show I attended. She's a pocket rocket at about 5ft 5in (165cm) and the backdrop looked awesome! Shockingly, a neighbouring exhibitor thought my sporty, athletic model was a size 16! This confirmed to me just how much the fashion/modelling industry has warped our perception.
This excerpt from Time.com in 2014 still resonates 5 years later:
"Naturally consumer behavior informs retailer decisions, but the most perplexing insight of my career was when a plus-size retailer tested shoppers, showing the same styles on size 8 and 14 models, each to a different customer segment. The size 8 model translated into more sales nearly every time, even as customers demanded on social media that the brand use plus-size women in their product photography. This was not an isolated incident; industry friends shared similar anecdotes about brand after brand. And retailers are going to continue to create online shopping experiences that lead to higher sales. For example, brands frequently re-shoot a slow-selling item on a “higher converting” model (to use the industry term for earning potential) to move inventory. As essential as clothing is to our lives, fashion is first and foremost a business."
Great strides have certainly been made in recent times with major brands showcasing a more diverse range of body types in fashion & clothing advertisements. This can only be a good thing. But like any other 'movement', what's occurred in the past has become ingrained in generations of women and it's going to take some time before curvier models are considered the norm (again). Even those influencers on social media can't bear to post a photo unless it's filtered to within it's life. Don't get me started...
For TRU ATHLETIC, we'll make sure we stick to our guns. We'll stay true to who we are, who YOU are and why we make sportswear that allows you to train properly. Hopefully more customers will stop scrolling when they see happy, healthy, sporty types in sportswear. 🥰
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic/blog. Please feel free to comment below or send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks for reading,
Founder & Sportswear Lover