Clothing Company Swaps Models for PhD Candidates

It's a marketing win.
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Tyler McCall
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It's a marketing win.
PhD candidate models in Betabrand's spring line. Photo: Betabrand.com

PhD candidate models in Betabrand's spring line. Photo: Betabrand.com

When the conversation about fashion and modeling come about, many people often wonder why companies and magazines don't use more "real" women (that is, women who aren't models).

San Francisco-based Betabrand already uses friends and customers to model its clothes, so it decided to take the concept to the next level. Rather than just hiring models, or recruiting customers, Betabrand put out the call for female PhD candidates to model its spring offerings.

The landing page for the spring collection features images of "real" women, and reads, "Fifteen fantastic new women's items modeled by our ravishing roster of PhDs and doctoral candidates." Sasha, a nuclear engineering PhD candidate models the coral-stripe popover shirt; Karina, a sociology PhD candidate, models the cigarette leg jeans.

It's an effective marketing move. I hadn't heard of Betabrand until this, and I'm willing to guess this will expose them to a wider audience for little (or no -- the PhDs all volunteered for the job) money. What's more, Betabrand's clothes are the type of basic, easy-to-wear clothing I imagine many PhD students would appreciate having in their closet.

Of course, the flip side of this is that these are still women who fit a certain mold: pretty, slender and, for the most part, white. There's nothing wrong with that, it's just that Betabrand hardly rocks the boat on the diversity front.