Debenhams Probably Pissed Off Fashion Snobs With This Lookbook. We’re Glad!

Debenhams Summer 2013

A model over 70, a plus size woman in a bikini and an amputee are just a few of the people you will see in major UK retailer Debenhams’ summer lookbook. By fashion industry standards, its really pushing the envelope. In real like, it looks like a mirror, reflecting the diversity in everyday society.

This is what Debenhams said about this direction on their website:

“Here at Debenhams we believe that anyone can look fabulous in our range – which is why we’ve decided to break with convention.”

“By becoming the first high street retailer in the UK to promote its latest fashion collections by using models in a diverse variety of ages, sizes and looks – the imagery in our ‘High Summer Look Book’ turns its back on the industry norm of young thin models.”

They featured an amputee model Kelly who was born without a forearm, Paralympian amputee Stefanie Reid, 3 models over the age of 40 (shock horror!) and chose a size 18 woman to showcase their latest swimwear range (how dare they!). Note: all comments in brackets are sarcastic, what we really meant was: Finally! Thank God!

Debenhams  Debenhams_

“Our customers are not the same shape or size so our latest look book celebrates this diversity.  We would be delighted if others followed our lead.  Hopefully these shots will be a step, albeit a small one, towards more people feeling more comfortable about their bodies,” said Ed Watson, Director of PR at Debenhams.

This isn’t the first time the brand has been willing to go against the grain. In June 2013 they made a public statement saying they will no longer be using photoshop in their campaigns, for both financial and advertising reasons.

“As well as being a positive from a moral point of view, it ticks the economic boxes as well. Millions of pounds a year are spent by organizations retouching perfectly good images,” says Sharon Webb, Head of Lingerie buying and design for Debenhams.

Their hard work is paying off and getting attention for all the right reasons. Debenhams were the 2012 Body Confidence Award winners for their “on-going ‘Inclusivity Campaign’ showcasing imagery that is inspirational and, most importantly, realistic.”

Debenhams  Debenhams

Minister for Women and Equalities in the UK Jo Swinson said:

“Once again Debenhams is showing that beauty comes in all forms – different skin colors, ages, body shapes and sizes. It was one of the first to introduce size 16 mannequins, and continues to send a clear message to the rest of the retail industry that many customers want to see more diverse and realistic images.”

So how long will it be until diversity becomes the new trend in fashion? We hope not too long. This importance of this campaign goes beyond just looks, but aims at digging up the tired foundation that says we have to conform to be happy. It goes against advertizing and marketing standards which only looks at the bottom dollar, not caring about consumers along the way.

Thank you Debenhams for raising the bar and being willing to venture through uncharted territory to discover new treasures in fashion land.

Who’s next? Step it up!



Tags: × × × × × × × × ×


  1. I love this!! As an older (69) woman with more body than she would like, I find this refreshing! I had to look a second time to see the missing leg and arm. I don’t find it offensive at all. In fact it says a lot about the designs they have. You aren’t looking at the model as much as you are at the fashion. Good job!

  2. Lisa Callus says:

    This is so great – Cotton On Body in Oz does this too they use Paralympian Kelly Cartwright to model. She looks amazing.

  3. Pingback: Disabled Model Says Fashion "Still Has A Long Way To Go" Toward Diversity

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.