How Aerie continues to keep it #AerieReal
Meet the brand that’s been changing the PR game since 2006
By Gina Quatrino
Aerie is a loungewear and intimates brand that formed out of American Eagle in 2006. Since its creation, the company has reached millions of consumers through smart branding and proactive public relations. Public relations is an important tool that companies use in order to grow their brand and it grabs your reader’s attention with a great quote from the document or uses this space to emphasize a key point. To place this text box anywhere on the page, just drag it.]
reputation. According to the PRSA, “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” Aerie has always been one of my favorite brands because of its originality and transparent mission. I never felt represented or particularly comforted by any other lingerie brand targeted at women in their 20s. While there is always room to grow, I think Aerie has one of the best PR campaigns in its market.
Keeping it #AerieReal
In 2014, Aerie released its first campaign under the hashtag #AerieReal. The focus of the campaign was to showcase what real bodies look like. This came at an interesting time for intimate wear, with competitors such as Victoria’s Secret and Calvin Klein at the top of their game. The standard was a “one-size fits all” mentality, and Aerie was here to change that. The company had plus-size model Iskra Lawrence as their spokesperson and spearhead of the campaign. Aerie publicly announced the new slogan and vowed to stop retouching or photoshopping its models. What made this campaign successful was that they challenged their competitors to do the same.
Consumers quickly started realizing that their favorite brands could not compete. They were either reluctant to meet Aerie at its word, or they ignored it completely. The #AerieReal campaign created a tidal wave of body positivity in the lingerie industry. The company took this hashtag across social media platforms, encouraging their customers to post their unrefined photos under the hashtag. It has also become an integral part of the brand’s mission and company values.
Since the campaign’s start in 2014, the #AerieReal movement has grown into the new standard. Lingerie companies that were formed after this movement, like Savage x Fenty, have leaned in to the real beauty market. Aerie was one of the first brands to push the boundaries of what makes a model beautiful, and they are continuing to do so today with their newest brand ambassadors.
Aerie x Liberare: Impactful inclusivity
In their wave of inclusivity, Aerie has started a new movement for disability visibility. The company has started to incorporate brand ambassadors that have physical disabilities, such as wheelchairs or prosthetic limbs. In a press release delivered in Aug. 2022, the company announced its newest collaboration with Liberare. Liberare is a lingerie brand that’s primary focus is making garments for the disabled. In their collaboration, they plan on releasing a limited collection of bras and undergarments that allow disabled people to easily dress themselves and adjust as needed.
“Aerie and Liberare want to keep empowering all people with a REAL message and to keep challenging the fashion industry to support the message of inclusion, representation, and love.” -Aerie x Liberare press release, Aug. 18, 2022.
This collaboration is a great example of the proactive PR that Aerie practices. The company is constantly listening to its consumers' needs and building relationships that suit them. The partnership with Liberare is still very new, but it is a step in the right direction for furthering its body positivity movement across the community.
Fighting backlash with kindness
One of the largest components of PR is combating negative backlash. When a company makes these giant waves within its industry, it can expect both positive and negative feedback. While a majority of its key public embraced the #AerieReal movement, there were a handful of people who viewed it in a negative light. In 2019, the company experienced some backlash after consumers wrote that the sizing was not as inclusive as the mission.
One person tweeted, “Their largest size in clothes is XXL and the biggest bra is a 40DD. That's not being inclusive of large women. I certainly could never shop there. And if they're so inclusive, shouldn't they have more (some?), fat models, on their site?”
Brand Ambassador Jameela Jamil responded, tweeting back, “Just sat down with some of the bosses at @aerie who assured me they are already working on becoming more and more inclusive in sizing. But please don’t lose sight of the fact that it’s also so cool to have blind, disabled, black, Asian, gay, and sexual assault survivors repped too.”
Since 2019, the brand has worked towards representing more plus-size models and diversifying its reach.
What is next for Aerie?
Proactive PR is a crucial part of building a great company. Since Aerie has honed in on its focus on body positivity and inclusivity, the loungewear and lingerie brand has become a household name. Through its smart social media presence, impactful mission, and consistent attention to feedback, Aerie has built an impressive brand and company story.
Aerie is currently focusing on its newest collaboration with Liberare, but consumers can expect even more diversity and inclusion from the brand in the future. I am a proud shopper of Aerie products because I know they are actively giving back to my communities. From a PR standpoint, I can applaud all the work the company has done across platforms and mediums to build important relationships with its communities and competitors.
Check out the company’s #AerieReal Life blog to learn more about the brand’s current activism, donation drives, and community impact.
Gina Quatrino is a new public relations professional based in the Dallas area. She graduated from the University of North Texas in December 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism. Her interest areas include entertainment, arts and culture, and fashion public relations.