Our Co-Founder, Susan Koger, Asks the Fashion Industry to Change for the Better

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Earlier today, our Co-founder and Chief Creative Officer, Susan Koger wrote an inspiring op-ed piece that challenges the fashion industry to change for the better — to reflect and celebrate the diversity of beauty among all women today.

“Now’s the time for the fashion industry to start using its power for good, Susan says in a follow-up video interview she shot with us. “Imagine a world where flipping through a fashion magazine is an empowering and life-affirming experience! That’s a world I want to live in, and that would be an industry I’d be proud to be a part of.”

Everyone at ModCloth is very proud of Susan’s voice and the company’s commitment to helping women look and feel their best.

Take a moment to read her letter below, then be sure to watch her video and learn more at our #FashionTruth hub.

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For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved fashion. I love the whole process: the excitement of shopping, the thrill of finding something unique, and that powerful, transformative experience that happens when you put on a garment you love and it makes you feel like the best version of yourself.

As the co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of ModCloth, I’m proud to call myself a fashion insider; but I’m also deeply disappointed in the way my industry depicts fashion to consumers. I look out, and it seems less about helping people find fashion they love to wear, and more about convincing them that they need to conform to one eerily consistent standard of beauty. A standard built on highly altered and often unrealistic images.

I think we can do better.

Close your eyes and think about the last dozen fashion advertisements you’ve seen (if you’re an average American, you’re seeing about 3,000 advertisements a day). Try to recall how many ages, body shapes, and sizes were represented in those ads. Now think about the people in your life: your family, friends, and co-workers… Why is there such a big disconnect?

The message we hear time and again is that only “aspirational” imagery sells, and over time, the industry has converged on a very narrow definition of the word. A definition that makes many women and girls feel like they are not and cannot ever be good enough. But the industry hasn’t always been this way, and it doesn’t have to be this way today. ModCloth even recently conducted a third party survey that found that nearly two-thirds of women report “having more loyalty to a brand that celebrates beauty in all shapes and sizes.”

There’s a rising outcry online, in blogs and in social media, of people questioning the status-quo and begging for a change. Is anyone listening? Sure, occasionally we see “real body” layouts, but then it’s back to business as usual. I think now is the time for real change.

It is time to put an end to the extreme Photoshopping and the false and unrealistic expectations placed upon women (and men for that matter). This is why ModCloth recently became the first to sign The Brave Girls Alliance “Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge,” an anti-airbrushing petition which aims to “do our best not to change the shape, size, proportion, color and/or remove/enhance the physical features, of the people in our ads in post-production.”

On behalf of ModCloth, I am making this commitment to our customers:

Models: We will continue to cast a variety of women sourced from our community, and show them as their true selves.
Merchandise: We will source, make, and sell clothing in a broad range of sizes.
Community: We will listen to our customers as a community and put them at the center of everything we do.

Not only is this our pledge to you, it’s also a challenge to the industry, because reflecting women as they really are should be the rule — not the exception.

Let’s show the rest of the world what the real and varied fashion landscape looks like. My hunch is that it looks an awful lot like you.

—Susan Gregg Koger

About ModCloth

With the combined writing powers of our scribing staff, we bring you oodles of collaborative features starring everything from contests and culture to behind-the-scenes coverage of MC events and shenanigans. You're always saying you want to be kept in the loop. Consider yourself lassoed.

9 Responses to Our Co-Founder, Susan Koger, Asks the Fashion Industry to Change for the Better

  1. Leah 09/03/2014 at 2:40 pm #

    This is great. It’d also be wonderful if you would take steps to establish a corporate social responsibility statement in regard to sourcing and let customers know how you ensure that workers are being treated fairly in the production facilities.

    • Sophie Golden 09/09/2014 at 4:20 am #

      Agree 100%

      • Dena Morgan 10/05/2014 at 8:33 am #

        How can any women who has struggled in a world of first glance judgement in everything they have done throughout their life, not reply to your statements & not thank you for trying to change such an awful outside vision judging world we live in. It certainly is a battle that I believe we just have to show how, first of all how beautiful we are on the outside, the absentee simply never takes the time to see the beauty that creates that beauty from within. It definitely takes two people to see the beauty; however, sometimes the other person just never grows within enough to experience the joy of really knowing a beautiful person inside, because I have seen ugly people in my life & they could possibly win any beauty pageant if it went by a photo portrait alone; however, open their mouth & find out they have been evil to one’s that God maybe needed them to be kind to in their life, but they were too good looking for their time.Oh my gosh, some of their good looking friends just might see them talking to this, well, ugly person over there.
        Pageants that only have good looking people have no idea of the creative, talented & much more original people the world would like to see representing different organizations, but we only get the beauty, why? I don’t know, but, how great that there is someone out there trying to change some of it, because, I can tell you that you have the majority of the world behind you. Great job!
        Thanks so much.

    • Sara 09/09/2014 at 12:03 pm #

      Yes, this please!

  2. Pia Schiavo-Campo 09/04/2014 at 10:38 am #

    Thank you! This is just the kind of thing we’ve been needing to happen for years. I hope other clothing companies and advertisers follow suit. Brava!

  3. Crystal 09/04/2014 at 2:48 pm #

    I’m with Leah!

  4. sleepydumpling 09/11/2014 at 10:51 pm #

    This is why I will happily give Modcloth my hard earned money. May I wish you all much success.

  5. Ryou 09/15/2014 at 4:28 am #

    Yay! Thank you for the letter. I sincerely hope you’d start making more of your clothes available in plus size, may I suggest you start with the Like You A Lattice Dress? *hopeful*

  6. Beth 09/21/2014 at 2:03 pm #

    I like the longer length many of the dresses are at Modcloth and I for one am too small for most dresses sold in stores so I appreciate the availability of extra small, and extra extra small.
    Please continue to offer them.

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