Since we signed The Heroes Pledge For Advertisers, we’ve received an outpouring of love from across the globe, echoing our challenge to the fashion industry – ditch the dishonest and dramatic airbrushing of photos. While we’re thrilled to be leading the charge, we also realize that this is just the first step towards a more inclusive and truly inspiring shopping environment.
In order to give you a behind-the-scenes understanding of our take on Photoshop, we sat down with Carrie – the Head of Retouching at ModCloth – to talk process, Photoshop, and image in the fashion industry!
ModCloth: What does retouching really mean, and how does ModCloth differ from other fashion retailers?
Carrie: Some form of photo editing has been around as long as film and cameras; it’s an artform that starts with adjusting the technical aspects of an image – like light exposure, color balance, and sharpness – the things you used to do in the darkroom. Then you head into creative territory, where retouchers can combine images or create entirely imagined scenes. Whether spotting dust on a negative or clicking a pixel, it’s always been part of the storytelling process.
At ModCloth, our goal is to depict the merchandise and the models wearing it in fashion that’s aspirational and high-quality, but always attainable and realistic. It’s a stance that reflects our larger mission to help each customer feel like the best version of herself – I think of our approach as fine-tuning things that the photographers may have missed on the set. They may not see the reflection in a model’s sunglasses or notice the scuffs on the sole of her heel!
M: So you’re not anti-Photoshop as much as you’re anti-digital plastic surgery?
C: Yes, we still use Photoshop ! It’s the go-to software for professionals in the image industry, whether they’re making crisp nature photos or dreamy creative stuff. It’s a powerful tool, certainly – so we try to wield it with care.
When we sit down in Photoshop, we all start with a series of fundamental, natural choices. I crop and make sure the colors look true-to-life, removing fly away hairs or a wrinkle in a garment – I’m not jumping in to give someone a thigh gap or reshape their hips.
M: So what does The Truth in Advertising Heroes Pledge or ModCloth’s standards boil down to for your team, in terms of dos and don’ts?
C: The don’ts are easy. We don’t smooth skin bumps or rolls, and we don’t remove natural freckles or moles. We refuse to enhance or diminish bust, thighs, arms or buttocks. We don’t do ‘airbrushing’ with the paint tool, and we avoid over-using the stamp tool.
On the other hand, as I mentioned, we want the models to look their best! So we do remove zits and stray hairs, lighten under-eye circles, and even skin tones or tan lines. We also have to consider copyright issues with some tattoos or do some work to preserve the model’s modesty, particularly with sheer products or intimates. At the end of the day, it’s the product that’s on sale, and we want our talent (who are community members) to feel respected while looking realistic.
See more before-and-after photos from our product pages:
+ Have a question about how we edit imagery? Comment below and we’ll ask Carrie!