AEO Says Body Positivity Pays, Pushes Into Bras

American Eagle Outfitter’s Aerie is introducing a whole new way to approach bra buying, with a “Make You Feel Real Good” effort that celebrates all shapes and sizes. With new approaches to both fit and to the shopping experience, it stars nearly 60 real young women. And it comes at a time when AEO is increasingly finding that “body positivity” messages and real-life models can lead to record sales.

The 360-degree shopping experience includes in-house-created new ads, a brand-new lineup of bras and bralettes, a new bra-measuring process for fitting rooms and a training program for associates, in partnership with the National Eating Disorders Association. (Aerie is a long-time partner of NEDA.)



The Pittsburgh-based retailer says it’s all designed to make the bra-browsing experience feel judgment-free and uplifting.

It says the new fitting tool the BFF, or Best Fit Finder, is less invasive than a tape measure. And it’s encouraging women to cheer on the next shopper, leaving sticky notes of encouragement in each fitting room for the next person to find.

The bra campaign, using an #AerieREAL hashtag, follows the recent launch of AEXMe, a large effort for American Eagle jeans, celebrating self-expression from real kids. 

Aerie has been a pioneer in creating more welcoming imagery for young women, swearing off photo retouching back in 2014. Since then, brands like CVS and Dove have followed, with Dove recently adding a “No Digital Distortion” mark to its ads, an effort to make women aware of how many images are retouched beyond mortal standards.

American Eagle recently reported its 13th straight quarter of sales growth with an 8% gain to a record $823 million, with American Eagle sales climbing 4%. And at Aerie, revenues jumped 38%. In announcing the results, its executives chalked the gain up to Aerie’s “real emotional connection” with young women.

Those gains come at a time when many apparel brands are struggling, and sales are plunging at rival Victoria’s Secret, owned by L brands.

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