You might not expect a mall (and strip mall) stalwart that caters to fortysomething women to get super-cheeky, but that's exactly what Dressbarn has done for its new campaign. Riffing on the brand's name, a couple of barnyard animals make cameos in the fall ads, shot alongside model Hilary Rhoda. Even more startling than putting a small petting zoo's worth of creatures in the campaign? The photographer responsible for the images is fashion favorite Patrick Demarchelier. (An old editorial, lensed by Demarchelier, of a model standing with a bull actually inspired the Dressbarn shoot.) A stylish, perhaps surprising new look is often how mom-ish brands try grabbing more youthful customers, but that's not the case here. "I wouldn't say we're trying to court a younger customer. We've always known who our customer is: She's a 40-ish woman," Lori Wagner, Dressbarn's chief marketing officer and executive vice president of e-commerce, told Refinery29. "With the democratization of fashion, there are so many options for millennials and Gen-Xers. But that's not the case when you enter the 35-to-45-year-old range: Where do those customers find great, relevant, appropriate fashion for a great price?"
The 53-year-old retailer has been trying to becoming more relevant in the fashion world for the past two years via designer collaborations, an overhaul of the look of its stores, and the launch of a pop-up shop earlier this year — called Dressbar — to bring in a more stylish crowd. Oh, and the clothes are changing, too. "Most importantly, you're going to see the product evolve," Wagner says of the refresh. "It's been a tremendously successful business, and now we want to be a tremendously successful brand." One thing that isn't getting any work done on it is the name. "At one point, we discussed if we should change the name, but honestly, after a lot of research, we realized the name wasn't holding us back at all," Wagner says. "We thought, why not just have some fun with it and really own it?" Other somewhat similar brands that have dabbled in makeovers include Ann Taylor, which adopted a hipper look and cooler campaign stars, like Kate Hudson, to shed its frumpy cubicle-wear rep with a revamp in 2010. Talbots also tested out the illustrious-photographer-plus-noteworthy-campaign-star equation to revitalize its image. (It didn't quite work.) Putting a pig, Patrick Demarchelier, and Dressbarn in the same sentence (and photo shoot) is certainly one way to grab attention. Check out this behind-the-scenes video to get more acquainted with the farm-to-fashion campaign stars. Demarchelier's shots are gorgeous, and Rhoda looks great, but the real stars here are Zoom the rooster and Winnie the goat, in our opinion.