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More Brands Are Turning to Their Own Employees to Model Campaigns

Acne Studios's Fall 2020 imagery is the latest example of an increasingly popular trend.

On Thursday, Acne Studios released its Fall 2020 campaign. Photographed by Anders Edström at the brand's headquarters in Stockholm, it centers on suiting and puppies. (Seriously: Some pieces in the collection featured dog artwork by British artist Lydia Blakeley, so Acne Studios naturally got some Good Boys and Girls to sit for the shoot.) More notably, it marks the third example of a growing trend among luxury fashion brands: tapping their own employees as models.

Acne Studios's Fall 2020 campaign stars include the company's global wholesale director Pontus Björkman (and his Yorkshire Terrier, Kenzo), global communications director Edouard Schneider (with Miniature Dachshund Pumba) and technical designer Iona Ciocan (accompanied by her French Bulldog, Jasper), among others. (Creative director Jonny Johansson recently became a dog owner himself, he noted in the press release, and felt inspired by that "subculture.") 

This isn't an entirely new phenomenon — mass-market brands like ModCloth, J.Crew and Macy's have done it for years. It hasn't been as common among luxury labels, though. (Brandon Maxwell is a notable exception: He had members of his team model for his Fall 2019 campaign, alongside Riley Montana.) Still, this summer, it seems to be gaining popularity. 

In July, Burberry dropped the lookbook for its Pre-Spring 2021 line, which was also modeled by staffers from a wide range of departments — from design and merchandise to copy and finance. (One staffer's cat made a cameo appearance.) 

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"I am so proud of this collection which not only reflects and celebrates the unique codes that make the house, but also the diversity of talent that represents our Burberry community, bringing the magic of the Burberry world to life," creative director Riccardo Tisci (who did not appear in the campaign) said when it dropped. 

These images came days after Gucci presented its not-officially-Resort-2021-but-pretty-much-Resort-2021 "Epilogue" collection virtually, which Alessandro Michele opted to show on members of his design team, specifically, in a lookbook photographed by Mark Peckmezian. The show notes explained: "The clothes will be worn by those who created them. The designers with whom, every day, I share the daze of creation, will become the performers of a new story. They will seize the poetry they contributed to mould. They will stage what we passionately imagined. It's a process of role reversal, once more." 

Putting people who normally work behind-the-scenes at these brands front-and-center tells a great story. (And it's also just cool to see who's making the product you might be inspired by or even want to buy.) However, with Covid-19 changing the way many companies operate and who they're able to work with safely — and, realistically, what budgets look like — it also serves a practical purpose, so this likely won't be the last we see of this trend in 2020. 

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