It’s the sad truth that we all know too well – fashion brands do a very good job of dictating standards of beauty, whether that be how thin we should be, how much our cheekbones should protrude or what makeup we should wear. In fact, they scream this ideal at us through TV advertising, billboards on the street or glossy magazine adverts. Of course, the brands all tell a slightly different story, with their models portraying a different kind of beauty: this was all too obvious when looking at Inditex fashion brands. Inditex is one of the biggest fashion retails groups in the world with 8 brands and over 6460 stores in 88 markets – although each brand Inditex owns has slightly different images to represent its brand to its demographic, it’s clear that Inditex, through their eight brands, use a very similar standard of beauty.
To begin with: Zara, synonymous with quality. It is the most treasured jewel of Inditex and turns over 60% of the sales. Zara sells haute couture but in a more affordable way; its clothes are elegant through the mix of textures and patterns. It has a minimalist vibe and the brand shows beauty as natural through the use of basic clothes but with a distinct touch. The point is that this standard of being natural, with just a little make up and simple clothes, does not really fits with the models they use to do so: they are extremely pale, tall and flat-chested, with a serious or sad expression.
To understand what Bershka is we have to look at its target, that is strictly young people with low budgets and a desire of being fashionable. In this context we find that the type of clothes that it offers are not relevant because of the quality, but because of the price. Bershka gathers different styles from boho-chic to a more urban one. So, this image is personified by thin young European models with shy smiles and a touch of colourful makeup – this clearly embodies youth, fashion-trends and affordability.
Oysho is also a Spanish clothing brand dedicated to a niche audience but instead of casual urban, think sexy, feminine and fun. It’s dedicated to a female audience, seeking a variety of modern fashion fixes – underwear, home ware, beach and gym wear and of course, accessories. Less covered up compared to the Pull & Bear models (to be expected as they specialize in underwear), these predominantly Caucasian models team slim sun-kissed figures and natural make up with noticeably more intense expressions. As for the latest campaigns, the predominant look for SS’15, appears to be white and pastel coloured garments with either a thin and flows style or a detailed neckline. However, Beachwear SS’15 also features crop tops and sarongs with darker Aztec details and stripes.
Stradivarius is also a Spanish clothing brand that wants to sell casual and urban clothes. It’s dedicated only for women – it’s pretty feminine and playful. There is not much variety of dresses because they are focused on “street” style. Referring on models, they are similar to Zara ones. Both look sad and worried, looking down- in fact, they look rather melancholic.
Massimo Dutti is a brand is more elegant than Stradivarius, for example. The models are serious, with straight but very pretty faces and strong facial features. Regarding the clothes, they are very luxurious, made of cashmere – of course, a very expensive product. The male models are especially masculine and sexy which is reflected by the seductive and very feminine women.
Pull & Bear
If you’ve been endlessly searching for a ‘simple’, ‘durable’ and ‘comfortable’ but still ‘fresh’ global style, then Pull & Bear ticks all of these boxes. Girls can forget about excessively made up models in heels and guys can breathe a sigh of relief as the male models wear jumpers and hoodies. Spain’s home-grown clothing and accessories brand caters to more of a niche audience – casual and affordable fashion seekers, with a distinctly young and urban edge. Standing tall (quite literally), pretty much all of the pale-skinned Pull & Bear models share noticeably petite frames and striking cheekbones. The poses and facial expressions full of either attitude or a nonchalant vibe back up the urban feel as the Pull & Bear models don trademark designs of memorable patterns or text. Currently, one of the newest collections is ‘Summer Vibes’; aiming to portray a modern mix of quality with creativity through boho, tropical, urban safari, indigo and crochet styles.
It’s like a game of spot the difference – yes, each model varies slightly from the other, be it the red dyed hair or floral trousers of Vogue-esque pose. But really, Inditex clearly promotes one ideal: white, tall, skinny girls with oval faces, button noses and high cheekbones. . It doesn’t matter if they’ve been put in some classy heels or some ripped denim shorts, underneath all the makeup and clothes and scenery they are extremely similar. How damaging is this for everyone that buys from these brands – to be faced with these similar images? There is no variation of beauty here: Inditex seem to say, if you’re not ivory white, six foot tall, size 34 with some killer cheekbones, then sorry pal, you’re just not our standard.