Lingerie ads usually involve images of pouty-faced, airbrushed, sample-size models posing seductively in bedroom settings — basically, as far from inclusive as possible. Let's be honest: These overtly sexual portrayals have nothing in common with how we typically wear our underwear IRL. Unless you’re a free-the-nipple crusader, bras are probably a part of your everyday life. New Zealand-based label Lonely brings a much-needed dose of reality to its latest campaign in a continued effort to redefine what it means to feel sexy.
Last we heard from the Kiwi brand, it had recruited Lena Dunham and Jemima Kirke
to pose in its lacy sets for the brand's photo series, Lonely Girls, which aims to feature diverse women in the spaces they feel most comfortable in. The same mentality crossed over to the label's latest campaign: For fall '16, the lookbook features nine friends of the brand as models.
"We love to work with women who share similar values and beliefs as we do at Lonely," Helene Morris, the brand's designer and founder, told Refinery29. "Having a connection in some way to the brand is often a starting point for us."
This is true even for June Canedo, the Brooklyn-based photographer who shot the campaign. "I asked my mom [Rogeria] to be a part of it, because she’s the first woman I think of when the conversation is about women who are proud to be themselves," Canedo explained. Along with Canedo’s mother, the women featured include a ballerina, a transgender model, and an artist.
There are also some familiar faces: Paloma Elsesser, a two-time Lonely campaign star (and Refinery29 favorite), returns for the brand's fall '16 imagery. "It’s not just [about] plus or skinny: it’s all of the in-betweens [...] like scars and stretch marks and lopsided boobs," Elsesser said of modeling for Lonely. Though she notes that it would be misguided to call this type of casting revolutionary: "It’s so funny when people are like, ‘It’s so real, it’s so raw.’ It’s crazy that it’s so groundbreaking, because it’s normal."
Unfortunately, the reason Lonely’s campaign seems so shocking and startling to some is that we’re so accustomed to seeing lingerie modelled exclusively on unrealistic bodies in fantasy settings — despite customers speaking out and asking for representation in the images they consume. Some brands, like & Other Stories
, have been responsive to these requests, launching their own un-retouched campaigns. Though these labels, along with Lonely, set a positive example by destigmatising imperfections and showing a wider range of body types (especially as far as lingerie is concerned) they're still a disappointing minority in the industry.
According to Morris, however, her label has no interest in shaming competitors that don’t share her values. The brand is purely focused on "celebrating the individual in the hope that women will both accept and embrace their own differences," she told Refinery29. And as Elsesser aptly put it, "It’s just about being able to give one girl — or a million girls — that resilience and safety to know that there’s somebody out there that isn’t just
like them, but that everyone’s similar in that way."
Ahead, meet Lonely's Autumn '16 campaign stars.