Betabrand Uses Female PhD Candidates Instead of Models In Campaign, And There's Only One Flaw

You've heard the term "smart fashion" before, but the clothing company Betabrand is taking it to a new level by using super smart ladies as models. The latest Betabrand campaign features real PhD and doctoral candidates in its Spring collection. Better yet, it seems to have actually executed the ad campaign fairly well. 

“When you look beyond the ranks of the professionally beautiful, photography becomes a lot more fun," says Betabrand founder Chris Lindland. According to BuzzFeed, the site used social media to spread a casting call inviting PhD and doctoral students to be in their advertisements. The company received 60 replies.

What was the theory behind this idea? Lindland said, "Our designers cooked up a collection of smart fashions for spring, so why not display them on the bodies of women with really big brains?" You may be expecting a slew of offensive stereotypes about smart women, but you fortunately won't find them here. The ads showcase the women in relaxed, comfortable poses. They hold open textbooks in many of the images. Sometimes they even look at the books. As if they are studying! Where are all the come-hither, flirtatious gazes that most brands are convinced sell clothing? Not here!

The coolest part of the campaign is that the photos actually tell you who the models are and what they study, so you get to know them a little bit. Each model is more than a pretty face or a clothes hanger. She's a human! And she might be smarter than you, but let's not get too hung up on the negatives.

Betabrand's clothing has a kind of relaxed professional vibe that fits the PhD theme nicely. That said, the campaign isn't perfect. Betabrand has largely ignored diversity, instead choosing models who are conventionally attractive, mostly white, and slim. But credit is still due to Betabrand for this out-of-the-box advertising campaign that showcases real women in a way that is not condescending or particularly self-congratulating.

Unlike past efforts from different clothing companies to use real people to sell their wares (I'm looking at you, Free People and Donna Karen), Betabrand delivers something fresh that is an actual alternative to traditional advertising. The women featured are awesome and they reflect an example of what women can accomplish with our brains. Plus they look cute in button-down shirts at the same time. That's pretty inspiring!

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