Torrid face of torrid-pic #4

What’s a tagline? By definition, according to Merriam – Webster it’s “a reiterated phrase identified with an individual, group, or product: slogan.” But if we delve deeper into the meaning, from a branding standpoint, its purpose is to provide a picture of what you do. It is there to provide clarity to your audience.

Torrid logo-main picWhen you see Torrid’s tagline as stated: “fashion for sizes 10 to 30”, it’s pretty clear that they carry apparel for those with curves. What is also becoming more clear and is often misleading, is how they represent themselves in their advertising and marketing campaigns. There is a growing concern amongst the plus-size community about Torrid’s true stance on diversity and all-inclusiveness. Let’s dive in and discuss.

Torrid holiday ad-pic #1Torrid just released their 2017 Holiday Catalog and many women within the plus-size community have voiced their concern and frustration about the lack of diversity with the models. I too share their frustration.

As you flip through from page to page, what immediately stands out are the similarities between all of the models that are showcased. Most–if not all–are tall, Caucasian women who are on the less curvy side. This is not okay! How can Torrid be a plus-size brand and retailer and not showcase this to their audience that their tagline specifically states they cater to, and the women who are the foundation of their business?

Is it because they feel that they’ve done their due-diligence by selectively showcasing a more diverse group of women in their smaller ad campaigns and in their smaller contests that are typically spotlighted only via their social media channels?  I don’t know, but have you noticed this too? Torrid doesn’t seem to mind showcasing more curvier women and a more diverse group of women when they hold contests on social media or when they have marketing campaigns that either won’t reach mainstream audiences or will only reach mainstream audiences for a short period of time.  Any other campaigns such as their 2017 Holiday Catalog and their annual Model Search are very specific and similar when it comes to their choice of a look for their models and model(s) to be. This is evident by the following Torrid ads:

Torrid holiday ad-pic #2Torrid holiday ad-pic #3

These ads paint a very clear picture as to what Torrid represents–at least from the perspective of their consumer. One would think that a retailer with a social media campaign called #TheseCurves would be more forthcoming when it comes to showcasing diversity and ALL body types and not just selectively as Torrid is appearing to do. The bottom line is that if you’re a brand that carries sizes up to a 30, your customer base deserves to see models that are an accurate representation of each size that you carry and they need to see it on a consistent basis. It’s a nod to the old adage “say what you mean and mean what you say.”

While Torrid has been the talk of the town in the plus-size community as of late (mainly due to their recent 2017 Holiday Catalog and the announcement of their finalists for the 2018 Model Search,) they aren’t alone in this. I’m looking at you Lane Bryant, Target and Macy’s. Although Target and Macy’s aren’t retailers who’s focus is on plus-size apparel, they along with many other retailers carry it and promote it in their ads; and when they do they seem to think that by including one somewhat curvy model in their campaign that they’ve covered their bases. On the other hand, Lane Bryant’s focus IS plus-size apparel and they are no stranger to controversy when it comes to their perceived lack of diversity in representing ALL body types.

For Torrid and for any other brand or retailer who advocates for diversity and all-inclusiveness, it’s important for you to know that you must embrace it fully. You should not be selective about when you showcase it: either you’re fully in or you’re fully out! Either you are a true advocate or you’re not! It’s not fair or ethical to mislead your audience for your own personal gain. If you truly embrace ALL body types and truly believe in diversity, you can change this perception by doing what is right by showing us who you actually are and what you actually represent. Your move!


Image credit: Torrid website and Torrid holiday issue 2017.

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