Swedish fashion chain H&M is making the headlines with its latest swimwear campaigns: first there was superstar Beyoncé and now the Swedish fashion retailer is drawing the media’s attention by cooperating with fashion model Jennie Runk. The American is the first plus-size model ever to model swimwear for Hennes & Mauritz.
Scandals and consumer pressure
It is not a coincidence that H&M is going away from the super skinny models: two recent events are the cause for this turnaround. First there was the Swedish blogger Rebecka Silvekroon, who had uploaded photos of plus-size mannequins almost three years ago.
At first there was little response to the pictures, but in March of this year they were picked up by mainstream media and spread all over the world. Only, it was said that they showed new mannequins being used in shops of H&M, while the photos were actually taken at Swedish competitor Ahlens and were used by Silvekroon to denounce the practices at H&M.
Last month a second scandal brought to light that Swedish fashion agents were recruiting models at one of the largest hospitals for patients with an eating disorder. Girls as young as fourteen, who were being treated for anorexia or bulimia, were invited for a photo shoot.
The combination of those facts caused a lot of commotion and increased the pressure on H&M to use ‘more naturally proportioned women’ for its campaigns, just like its Swedish competitor Ahlens does.
The stir had good results, because if some see the choice for curvaceous Beyoncé as face – and body – for the new summer campaign as innovative, then they will surely think the same about Runk. The Swedish fashion giant also deliberately did not label the collection she models as ‘plus size’.
H&M now says to hope other fashion retailers will also start using more women with ‘a healthy proportioned body’ in their campaigns.