Progress two ways--Penningtons & DBW

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Posted by HSG on March 17, 2005 at 09:02:06:

Twis week, two respected plus retailers augmented their Spring 2005 promotions, and the results merit considerable praise, albeit for very different reasons.

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First off, although the spring campaigns here in Canada have generally been a tad disappointing, the Penningtons chain ( can boast of having the most attractive promotion of any branch of the Reitmans family--an honour it has never held before.

Here is the most impressive image of the campaign, a cozy, comfortable snapshot has a touch of gentle sensuality about it--enough to create a lasting impression:

In its overall theme, the campaign is not especially riveting, shot mostly in a "lifestyle" manner. And the clothing at Penningtons is always an acquired taste. But the company deserves a standing ovation from its customers--and from all aficionados of timeless beauty--for allowing size-18 model Cathy B. from Ford to headline the promotion. This is progress on a scale that we have hitherto only seen at Torrid, and (occasionally) at Fashion Bug. And Cathy makes a better showing in this campaign than in any other work to date. The longer hair makes such a difference to her look.

The campaign also features Maiysha and Jeanna Lynn (Wilhelmina), the latter looking wonderful, exhibiting richer curves, and longer hair as well.

To cap off the promotion, the Penningtons site features a video showing its models in various lifestyle situations. And while their activities could have been a tad more exciting, the idea of including a promotional video such as this is truly inspired. It may even be more effective than a filmed runway show, because it presents the company's apparel in context. It is a practice that other retailers would do well to emulate, especially to accompany print campaigns that they really believe in.

* * *

Next up, Dress Barn Woman has released a Spring 2005 brochure which is a marvellous production in every respect. You can view the brochure at a fairly large size by following the link at the foot of this post.

The locations that DBW chose for this photo shoot are attractive, the photography exquisite, and the fashions are rather more appealing that past Dress Barn Woman collections. The company has clearly introduced touches of the New Femininity into its designs, and the results speak for themselves.

Note in particular the lovely, natural colours of Valerie's cover ensemble. Also, observe how the breeze catches Jordan's skirt in the image on page four. According to one reader, this image demonstrates one particular advantage that skirts and dresses have over slacks--i.e., they are "alive" as fabric in a way that pants are not, and can allow the wearer to do "lots of fun and flirty things" with them. All it takes is a convenient breeze, or a bit of effort on the part of the wearer, as Valerie indicates in that dreamy cover image.

* * *

In their own ways, both of these campaigns represent sigificant progress in plus-size fashion. The Penningtons promotion is a compelling visual argument for the benefits of selecting models who are attractive and genuinely full-figured, and Dress Barn's spring flyer makes a persuasive case for the appeal of today's newly-feminine styles, showing how wonderfully they accentuate the charms of womanly figures.

Let us hope that both trends continue . . .

Valerie on the Dress Barn cover, Spring 2005:

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