Image: aerie

Here’s an important lesson in advertising: Use less photoshop.

Or, if you’re a lingerie brand like American Eagle’s Aerie, forego airbrushing altogether.

That’s exactly what happened when Aerie decided to stop photoshopping completely two years ago, instead, using unretouched images of diverse women of all shapes and colors.

The result? A major increase in sales in the last year alone.

According to a financial report from the brand, Aerie spiked 20% in sales, compared to its parent company, American Eagle, which saw a 7% increase in sales.

“In the industry today, it was important for us as a brand to give our girls REAL images to invoke self confidence,” says Jennifer Foyle, Aerie’s global brand president, to Mashable. “#AerieREAL has been a huge success with our customers and we have seen strong engagement on our social channels which inspires us to continue on this path.”

Foyle says sales and earnings definitely correlated to the brand’s direction.

The #aeriereal campaign launched in spring of 2014 as a response to American Eagle Outfitters, its parent brand, announcing it would become more body-positive and inclusive in its approach.

“We have always embraced real, natural beauty and celebrated our customers’ passion and spirited optimism,” says Foyle. “Through our customer engagement and feedback, our girls helped us to see that celebrating the ‘real you’ was exactly what they wanted. We want to help empower young women to be confident in themselves and their bodies.”

Since then, the brand has utilized models of different shapes and sizes, some with beauty marks, others with tattoos.It’s worth noting, however, that “unretouched” doesn’t mean that Aerie is featuring random women off the street. These are still models with professional, if lighter, makeup. They didn’t wake up like that.

The initiative has been a resounding success, with women from all over the world celebrating their own unique bodies. The #aeriereal hashtag currently has over 30,000 photos on Instagram.

Aerie targets the 15-25-year old demographics with affordable lingerie, dormwear, activewear and athleisure. The brand launched in 2006 in its American Eagle stores, then branched out as shop-in-shops before then going off to become its own retailers.

With such a positive response from the public, it’s telling that authenticity pays. It did for Aerie.

Says Foyle: “We will continue to challenge conventional standards thorough celebrating inclusivity, unique beauty and uplift women in a positive approachable way.”

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Read more: http://mashable.com/2016/05/20/aerie-photoshop-sales-success/