© Kristina Loggia
You’ll never see the face — or the bosom — of the bra model in the photo above. And viewers will never know the identity of the girls in the images below.
These are commercial marketing shots meant to help sell bras, but when the company behind them released its new collection last week, it only photographed its campaign models from behind. No faces, no frontal views, and definitely no pictures of breasts.
It’s an anti-marketing strategy completely unique in the lingerie industry, where glamorous images of seductive models are commonly used to lure customers.
But for Yellowberry, the U.S. tween bra brand that generated worldwide buzz when it launched last year, keeping its models hidden is an essential part of its mission to separate the bra-shopping experience from the hypersexual world of lingerie marketing.
“Whenever we show our products on one of our Berries (the company’s name for its followers), it is shown from behind. This keeps the best part about our products a secret and close to our hearts,” Yellowberry founder Megan Grassell wrote in a recent Facebook post. “The focus of our product is not about the way it appears to an observer. Yellowberry bras are really about how they fit a girl’s body, and how they make her feel from the inside out. That’s what is most important.”
The shoot-from-behind approach has been a distinctive visual signature from the beginning for Yellowberry, which makes fashionable training and sports bras for girls typically aged 11-15.
But for Megan, who started the company while still in high school, the photos are also a way to shield both her models — who are typically family members or friends — and her customers from the unavoidable onslaught of sexualized culture that awaits them post-puberty.
“It started as something that just made sense to me,” Megan told Lingerie Talk. “My brand is about celebrating girls, and more importantly, it’s about celebrating what they can do in their Yellowberry product. (But) it’s photographed in a way that ultimately allows the girl to look like just that, a girl. Youthful, carefree and imperfect in ways that are true, real and unaltered.
“Things are so sexualized everywhere you look, but it shouldn’t have to be all about that,” she added. “(This) is a bra for a girl to wear, and that’s it. It doesn’t have to mean anything else. It’s functional and comfortable but it’s just a bra. There’s nothing secret or weird about it. It’s something you put on in the morning.”
But Yellowberry‘s photo policy is about more than just toning down the sex; it also provides a judgment-free framework that lets girls see and talk about their own bodies in a healthy, safe way.
Thus, it’s hard to criticize or envy the company’s anonymous models when all you can see is their bare shoulders. You can’t play Hot-or-Not with these wholesome images, and there’s little chance they’ll be passed around on social media and subjected to the kind of virulent body-shaming taunts that hurt so many teen girls.
In fact, the only time Yellowberry uses imagery that shows the faces of its amateur models is in “lifestyle shots” that show them participating in some kind of outdoor activity or adventure. It’s part of the brand’s commitment to showcase active, energetic, creative tweens — and promote positive role models for others like them.
“I did this because we are a brand that is bigger than our products,” Megan said. “We are all about empowering and supporting girls to be girls, and not feel the need to rush to grow up.”
Other brands that sell ‘junior’ or teen bras, including most major department stores, typically show standalone product images or else use the conventional frontal views seen in most adult lingerie catalogues.
Yellowberry‘s new collection, which includes soft bralettes, sports bras and underwear, marks the first time the company has photographed all of its bras (though not its underwear) on live models. And in its recent collaboration with Yellowberry, youth lingerie label Aerie supported the unusual marketing approach and made “a deliberate decision” to show only product shots of its partner’s bras, Megan said.
The brand’s photo policy has also earned support from parents, who are among Yellowberry‘s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.
“I am actually amazed at their excitement and support of their daughters working with us as soon as they learn more about the brand and the way in which the girls will be photographed,” she said.
In fact, far from dampening sales for the young label, Yellowberry‘s unconventional policy has helped it create a recognizable brand identity that resonates with appreciative customers.
“I don’t worry about it as something that might not help in the brand’s success,” Megan said. “This is something that Yellowberry has become known for. Our customers ask us about it all the time, and typically their question is already paired with a level of understanding and appreciation for the way we photograph our products.
“It is something that further reiterates the strength and authenticity of the brand.”
CREDITS: All photos by Kristina Loggia.