11 Best Brand Moments Of 2015 Because Retail Is Getting Progressive

The biggest and best brand moments of 2015 were unconventional, which is exactly what made them so memorable. Alongside the standard industry news were brand moments that celebrated inclusivity and body positivity, and a new willingness on the part of haute couture houses and legacy brands to partner with individuals who don't necessarily fit the mold of what is conventionally "beautiful," in favor of featuring a wider variety of bodies, ethnicities, genders, and ages than we've ever seen before.

To be sure, there was the usual industry news this year, from high-level departures like Alber Elbaz's particularly nasty leave from Lanvin, to the covergirl deals inked with top models, actresses, and it girls, like Kendall Jenner's partnership with Estée Lauder or Olivia Palermo's appearances as the face of La Mer. But some of the best brand moments of the year came when decades-old companies with reputations for being part of the stodgy, old guard joined the ranks of indie brands and body positivity and diversity activists who have been trying to push the needle closer to true inclusivity for years.

Here are 11 of the best brand moments of 2015 that showed the ways in which the tides are changing for the fashion industry and how inclusivity can be good for business.

1. Joan Didion For Céline

The year started out strong, with the announcement that Céline's new poster girl was Joan Didion, bringing together book nerds and fashionistas in support of this American author and style icon. Didion's signature style was a perfect match for the perennially chic brand, and the campaign marked a positive shift in the way the fashion industry views older women.

2. Soo Joo Park Became L'Oreal Paris' First Asian-American Spokesmodel

This was the year of Korean beauty, and established brands clearly took note. This March, Korean-American model Soo Joo Park became the first Asian-American model to represent L'Oreal Paris in the company's 106-year history. It was a major move for Asian faces everywhere.

3. Irene Kim As Estée Lauder's Global Beauty Contributor

Another Korean model to get her props this year was Irene Kim, who became Estée Lauder's new global beauty contributor in July. A Seattle native who moved to Korea after finishing her university education, Kim has become a familiar face at fashion weeks around the world, particularly known for her multicolored locks. According to Vogue, she has been working with Estée Lauder to create content and maybe even predict the next K-beauty trend.

4. Target Featured A Plus Size Male Model

The body positivity movement went mainstream this year, and there were plenty of body positive moments in 2015 that heralded the industry's shifting views. One of the biggest brand moments was when Target featured plus size male model Zach Miko on its website in October, reminding all of us that body positivity should be inclusive of all sizes and genders.

5. Eva Chen Joined Instagram

After building a reputation for shaking up social media, former Editor-In-Chief of Lucky Magazine Eva Chen joined Instagram as the head of fashion partnerships in July. Since then, she's brought together fashion and tech, famously meeting with fashion and beauty heavy-hitters like Pat McGrath in Facebook's tiny conference room, and even trying to get Anna Wintour to wear a hoodie, to no avail.

6. Alejandra Espinoza For Revlon

Latina TV presenter, model, and pageant queen Alejandra Espinoza became the new face of Revlon this fall. Though she'll specifically be helping with the launch of the company's first fragrance in years, called Love Is On, she's also a longtime fan of the brand, once admitting to PopSugar that her first lipstick was from Revlon.

It's still a big deal to see a Latina woman front such a major and global beauty campaign, and this move put Espinoza, a Mexican TV star who's fairly unfamiliar to American audiences, on the same level as fellow Revlon global brand ambassadors Halle Berry, Emma Stone, and Olivia Wilde, according to Buzzfeed.

7. Andreja Pejic Named New Face Of Make Up For Ever

Andreja Pejic was named the new face of Make Up For Ever, making her one of the first transgender models to land a major beauty campaign, and her image was subsequently splashed across Sephora storefronts nationwide. Pejic was also the first transgender model to be featured in a Vogue editorial in 2015, which turned out to be a major year for queer visibility in fashion.

8. Rihanna Became First Black Woman To Rep Dior

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Rihanna had some highly anticipated collaborations in 2015, like her PUMA By Rihanna creepers, which sold out within minutes. But perhaps the most excitement came from the announcement that Rihanna became the face of Dior's perfume J'adore Dior, making her the first Black woman to star in one of the French fashion house's campaigns in its 70 year history.

9. The Updated Pirelli Calendar

The Pirelli Calendar is perhaps known for its pin-up models, but this year's calendar, shot by Annie Leibovitz, was different. The 2016 Pirelli Calendar was heralded as a win for feminism, as it replaced the overtly sexualized images of years past with calendar girls who were being celebrated for their cultural impact.

Alongside women like Patti Smith and Tavi Gevinson, the portraits that made the biggest stir were those of Serena Williams, who is flexing her muscles and showing that strong is beautiful, and Amy Schumer, who posted a screenshot of the pic on her Instagram with the on-point caption, "Beautiful, gross, strong, thin, fat, pretty, ugly, sexy, disgusting, flawless, woman."

10. Alexander Wang Left Balenciaga

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Not all brand moments this year were about building partnerships, and some of the most talked-about brand news was that Alexander Wang left Balenciaga after three years with the fashion house. He finished up his last show for the brand in October at New York Fashion Week with a grand, jogging finale and bow, along with plenty of speculation about what the much-loved designer would be up to next.

11. Gigi Hadid Walked For Victoria's Secret

Gigi Hadid is one of the many young models who had a big year, walking in dozens of runway shows and starring in campaigns for big-name brands like Topshop. Despite being one of the industry's "it girls," she's been an advocate for body positivity, talking about self-acceptance with Refinery 29 and publicly celebrating size diversity on Twitter. She's also fought her fair share of body-shamers, eloquently responding to flak from online trolls with a statement on Instagram.

Though it seemed like a no-brainer, perhaps Hadid's biggest moment this year was walking in the Victoria's Secret fashion show. The video of her learning that she'd be part of the annual lingerie extravaganza went viral, which might be more progressive than it seems on the face of it. Featuring Hadid in the VS fashion show and celebrating her successes, along with her ability to rise above all the body-shaming, shows that self-acceptance is what's in.

The best brand moments of 2015 showed that the fashion industry is starting to become more inclusive and more willing to showcase diversity, and that's something to encourage from these same companies and more in 2016.