Professor David Pettinicchio and PhD student Jordan Foster in The Conversation: Victoria’s Secret joins the “inclusive revolution”

David PettinicchioProfessor David Pettinichio and PhD student Jordan Foster recently co-authored an article titled “Victoria’s Secret joins the ‘inclusive revolution,’ finally realizing diversity sells” on The Conversation. The article chronicles recent trends in fashion brands using models with disabilities in their advertising. Over the past two years, brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Nike, Aerie and now Victoria’s Secret have made efforts to create more inclusive fashion.

Professor David Pettinichio is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Toronto with teaching responsibilities at UTM. He specializes in the area of political sociology and studies the intersection of inequality and politics. Jordan Foster is a PhD student at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the intersection of culture, consumption, media, and inequality. His dissertation is titled “The Rich Kids of Instagram: Symbolic Wealth and Social Visibility in the Digital Era”.

We’ve included an excerpt of the article below. You can read the full article here. You can also watch the TikTok video about this article here.

“We focus our attention on disability because it’s traditionally seen as inconsistent with fashion. The industry largely saw a person with disabilities as someone who can’t embody, reflect or convey beauty. In other words, disability would turn off consumers.

Our analysis over five years of three mainstream fashion magazines – VogueInStyle and Harper’s Bazaar – revealed not a single person with a disability appearing on the cover. A look at 2,500 ads in InStyle turned up similarly little.

So we turned to the recent and well-known Nike, Aerie and Tommy Hilfiger campaigns that featured a diverse cast of models, including those with a range of visible and non-visible disabilities.

Tommy Hilfiger’s campaign went a step further. The brand developed adaptive clothing specifically designed for people with disabilities — a step few others have taken.

This inclusion, though hugely important, often comes with more “sanitized” depictions of disability – creating images thought to be “more palatable” to consumers.