Swimsuit shopping has become synonymous with hyper-photoshopped marketing that feels pretty distant from how wearing a bathing suit actually looks or feels, so we love seeing campaigns that are more realistic about what it's like to be bikini-clad. More often than not, we're clued into cool new brands and trends from social media, crowdsourcing our swim-season shopping from there. We've seen some brands embrace the value in this peer-to-peer connection by introducing inclusive hashtags to promote their new collections in ways that bring even more people into the fold — especially bodies that aren't usually represented in this type of imagery. Target's spring '17 swim range is bridging this gap even further with a photo series that feels like it was plucked straight from our 'gram feeds.
The Minnesota-based retailer centered its 2017 swim campaign on four women, both professional models and not, that each have a unique, body-positive approach to wearing a swimsuit. The portraits are unique to each of their own aesthetics and personalities, as are the swim styles on display — and, yes, you can shop them all at your local Target.
There's model Denise Bidot throwing us a peace sign while wearing an Xhilaration set; then, we see pro skateboarder Lizzie Armanto, hanging out in her cutout suit on a bed of flowers. Maybe there's #alittlebitoffilter, but not to the point where the subjects feel totally distant from someone you might follow on Instagram.
“Target is committed to empowering women to feel confident in what they wear by offering a variety style choices," Jessica Carlson, a spokesperson for the company, told Refinery29. "We loved working with these women because they embody confidence and inspire women to embrace and be proud of who they are, regardless of their size or shape. It was important to us to use photography that represented their true beauty, without filters."
All of these images could've appeared just as seamlessly on Instagram — and, in many cases, the models did indeed share the campaign, as well as other similarly-styled candids wearing Target-brand swimsuits, on their feeds. Some scenarios that live exclusively on Instagram include TV host Kamie Crawford splashing around in a crochet Mossimo one-piece, and dancer/actress Megan Batoon setting some pretty high #vacationgoals in a strappy bikini by the same brand. Through some well-planned #sponcon, Target effectively brings in a social-first element into the fold of its campaign. (No coincidence, then, that the title of this collection is a hashtag, #TargetSwim.)
We've seen brands achieve incredible success (both critical and financial) through initiatives that commit to portraying bodies authentically and with little to no retouching. An obvious example is Aerie's #AerieReal; similarly, Target introduced its #NoFOMO campaign for swim season last year, which similarly put its emphasis on body positivity, and dispelled the outdated concept that there's only one type of "beach body." It's been a long journey for some of these retailers to get to this point — Target was called out for a pretty bad Photoshop fail on one of its junior's swim e-commerce images back in 2014, for example. But it's encouraging to see influential, large-scale companies make good on promises of inclusivity, both in terms of the products they stock and on the images they put out to promote their wares.
This story has been updated with a statement from Target.