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Women More Likely to Buy Clothes When Women Look Like Them

Model Diversity: Women Buy When Models Look Like Them


Average size might soon replace the current sample size seen on the covers of magazines, in fashion ads, and on the runway. But I doubt some altruistic goal or gimmick of celebrating "real women" (aren't the thin women real, too?) will motivate the change. Rather a concern about the bottom line will lead to more diversity in model size, as well as race and age. New data shows that women are more likely to buy clothes when the models look like them.

A PhD student at Cambridge University conducted a study with 3,000 British, American, and Canadian women and found that "the vast majority of women significantly increase purchase intentions when they see a model that reflects their age, size, and race." He says it's in the interest of advertisers and magazine editors "to be mindful of who their target market is and how the models reflect that market."

I'll bet models will always be unusually beautiful, since fantasy and aspirational thinking also influences women's buying habits. But when exceptionally thin and young women who all resemble each other model clothes, it's almost impossible for an average-sized woman to tell how the look will translate in her closet. As more clothes shopping moves online, savvy retailers will likely woo women by presenting clothes in a way that makes as many women as possible think, "Hey, that would look good on me!"

Image Source: Getty
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Join The Conversation
Lenay Lenay 4 years
This is a tough one. I can identify with the problem of finding certain items in my size. Yet at the same time, I recognize that not all clothing designs can be tailored to suit every body type. Perhaps the stores that refuse to carry sizes over a 5 or 6 are actually just catering to a younger age group. Few women can stay that small after having children and it makes me cringe whenever I see a woman over 30 still dressing like a high school girl.
Lenay Lenay 4 years
This is a tough one. I can identify with the problem of finding certain items in my size. Yet at the same time, I recognize that not all clothing designs can be tailored to suit every body type.Perhaps the stores that refuse to carry sizes over a 5 or 6 are actually just catering to a younger age group. Few women can stay that small after having children and it makes me cringe whenever I see a woman over 30 still dressing like a high school girl.
TammyO TammyO 4 years
This is why I love Title Nine clothes. They feature "real women" models who look athletic and about my age. They never look super skinny, but they still look very fit and muscled.
bronzebeauty719 bronzebeauty719 4 years
I disagree quite frankly I don't look for clothes on models that look like me.. rather I go for clothes that will provide a certain look (outfit wise) I am striving to achieve. Also, I would be very discouraged to buy clothing being modeled by real women on whom it appears to be unflattering in my view. It probably will be adopted by more commercial retailers like jc penney, express, gap than those like intermix, shopbop, net a porter, etc
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 4 years
This makes sense. Didn't the Dove brand see a huge increase in sales when they started using real women as their models with the Real Beauty campaign? The Dove version of "real" includes a lot of diversity, which is how I also would define using "real" models: slender ones, plumper ones, athletic ones, brunette ones, blonde ones, black ones, white ones, etc. I always hate defining things in such a way that everything must be compartmentalized and stuffed into little boxes with no breathing room. One single type of ideal is ridiculous. I like to see diversity.
amber512 amber512 4 years
It's so funny because when I was big enough to fit into the clothes at Lane Bryant I certainly didn't mind. I actually was sad when I started to lose weight and could no longer fit into clothes there. They have cute stuff! Now I'm sorta stuck inbetween where I'm too small for plus-size stores, but too big to be in the target demo. for another store.
amber512 amber512 4 years
It's so funny because when I was big enough to fit into the clothes at Lane Bryant I certainly didn't mind. I actually was sad when I started to lose weight and could no longer fit into clothes there. They have cute stuff! Now I'm sorta stuck inbetween where I'm too small for plus-size stores, but too big to be in the target demo. for another store.
Annie-Gabillet Annie-Gabillet 4 years
I totally see what you're saying, SKG. I took this study as a call for a variety of models that represent all different types of women. Which hopefully would allow for middle ground.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 4 years
Pistil, my thoughts exactly :P The skin color thing is a fairly obvious psychological factor too, I suppose.
RoaringSilence RoaringSilence 4 years
Pistil, my thoughts exactly :P The skin color thing is a fairly obvious psychological factor too, I suppose.
Pistil Pistil 4 years
Well, duh.
Pistil Pistil 4 years
Well, duh.
Natalie-Love Natalie-Love 4 years
To be honest, that makes perfect sense. I'm a size 6 and more of a pear shape, and when I shop online, and I see a size 0 model wearing the denim shorts I like, I really don't know how they would look on me. But again, it would be quite difficult to appease to everyone... I suppose retailers just try to appease their target audiences.
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