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An interview with body positive champions Curvy Kate

We’ve been so impressed with Curvy Kate’s recent fighting for body positivity, and we’ve already talked about them. They’ve been in the news for their calling out Victoria’s Secret, for their BoobsOverBellyButton challenge, for their Star in a Bra contest. We’re very impressed so we asked Chantelle Crabb a few questions:   Curvy Kate is still […]

We’ve been so impressed with Curvy Kate’s recent fighting for body positivity, and we’ve already talked about them. They’ve been in the news for their calling out Victoria’s Secret, for their BoobsOverBellyButton challenge, for their Star in a Bra contest. We’re very impressed so we asked Chantelle Crabb a few questions:

 

Curvy Kate is still quite a young company. What were the founding principles of your business?

Yes we are young but we like to think we are going strong and making a difference. When we launched in 2009, there was a gap in the market for brands providing well-fitting, fashionable and fun lingerie for the fuller busted customer so we seized the idea with both hands and ran with it. We’re always striving to be the best in our category by being a relatable brand, a brand that people want to buy and be associated with, not only because of our core values but because of our gorgeous lingerie that makes our customers’ look and feel amazing.

 

It’s been a hell of a year for you guys. You’ve started three campaigns and you’ve been in international press for being body-positive champions. How does it feel?

It’s incredible; it’s exactly what we set out to do. We don’t want to alienate our customers we want them to feel part of our big family of acceptance and we intend to continue to spread this message.

 

We like your Star in a Bra contest, where you reach out to the public to find a new model for the year. How did this contest get started, and how has the reaction been?

It started the year we launched and since then the reaction has been phenomenal. We always wanted to have our customers as our models, as we believe they want to see what lingerie will look like on figures like theirs. It also repeatedly cements our feel good message – that anyone has the right to look and feel amazing in lingerie.

 

We believe that the process of designing adverts to make people feel inadequate is outdated and plain wrong, and that an alternate system to make people feel good shouldn’t take so much work. Why do you think there is so much inertia in the fashion world to do that?

I don’t think most brands set out to make people feel inadequate, I believe that the industry is just stuck in a bit of a rut and unfortunately that can in turn give this perception. Over the past few decades certain brands/faces/media have been steering the industry but social media has meant that the consumer now has far more control – which is brilliant. It means people are personifying brands – they are sharing their images, talking about their purchases and becoming more vocal about their needs and it’s about time we listened. Customer endorsements are the best form of promotion any brand can have now.

Societies’ vision of ‘perfect’ has been set by one ideal for too long, but it’s a hard process to move away from. As a smaller brand we’re lucky enough to be able to work closely with our customers, understanding their needs, what they want to see and how they want to interact. We’ve changed with our customers’ needs too, I think you have to adapt to the environment and make sure you’re talking to all your customers – not just a small percentage.

Our brand message is diversity – and celebrating all women, that’s why in all our promotional activities we use our customers to promote the brand – women who would wear our bras. We’ve never used a professional model as we want to show our customers how our products will look on women like them.

 

It’s been a great year for body-positivity, with Ashley Graham becoming a major star, and that Protein World advert getting so publicly rebuffed. What more do you think needs to be done?

I think we all need to keep pushing for what we want, there have been really big changes in the industry in the last year alone and I think brands are starting to take notice of what consumers want. It’s not that we need to banish slim girls like the girl in the Protein World advert, it’s just that we need to start seeing more diversity in the media, be that size, shape, skin colour, gender, ability, the list goes on. No body is the same – so our adverts should mirror and celebrate the differences we all have.

 

The bellybutton challenge, in which people reached their arms around their bodies, touching their belly buttons to show that they’re healthy, became a huge deal in China and around the world. What did you feel was wrong with it?

We were shocked when we saw the challenge, the message it was sending goes against everything Curvy Kate believe in. The idea that you are ‘fit and healthy’ if you are able to touch your own belly button round your back is utterly ridiculous and quite frankly dangerous. It also isn’t remotely medically factual and that is why we decided to counteract it with a much more positive and potentially lifesaving exercise.

 

Hundreds of people participated in #BoobsOverBellyButton and you got international coverage for it, including the bizarre inference from Fox News that you were sexualising breast cancer. Most of the response, though, has been positive. Are you happy with the success of your campaign? 

Extremely. We wanted to challenge the body-shaming challenge and that is exactly what we did. We had hundreds of photo entries and if just one of those images encouraged someone to check their boobs and potentially saves a life then we have done what we set out to do. We’re huge supporters of UK breast cancer awareness charity Coppafeel!, and it’s their message of ‘know what normal feels like’ that gave us the inspiration to push a much healthier and body-positive campaign.

We didn’t see Fox news as a negative – it was opening the conversation and getting more people to talk about breast cancer. In fact the piece sided with our campaign – the more awareness the better.

 

Do you think that fashion can be a powerful tool to effect positive change in the world?

I think so, Curvy Kate wouldn’t be here if that wasn’t the case. Obviously we want to sell bras but we also want to sell with that, the message that any woman can (and should) feel good about herself. I think by making women feel accepted and by showing our lingerie on girls that are easy to relate to, Curvy Kate are helping make the steps towards a more positive media portrayal of fashion.

 

Are there any other big Curvy Kate campaigns in the pipeline?

There are! We’re always striving to come up with new and exciting ways to engage our customers, make them feel valued and essentially spread our feel-good message. We don’t believe there is one type of Curvy Kate customer; we believe all women should be celebrated – because we are all pretty awesome! That’s why we make all our campaigns inclusive – it’s about diversity and understanding there isn’t one type of perfect. Our latest campaign, #myboobsandme supports this message – we want to hear from all women about their boob journey. Did they hate them, love them – have they changed – how do they feel about them now? We’ll be hearing from mothers, older women, transgender women and those who have undergone surgery on their breasts. It’s been great to see how many people have related to the different stories and it’s a campaign we’ll continue to run, plus there is free lingerie for all the stories that go on the blog – so if any of your readers would like to enter then they can by emailing their story to blog@curvykate.com and keeping an eye out for new uploads at http://blog.curvykate.com.

Like we said, we are constantly thinking of new and exciting ways to engage our customers and make them feel amazing, there will always be more to come so keep up with us on our blog and social channels.

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