It takes a lot to get Iman in front of a camera these days.
But the former top model, activist and entrepreneur agreed to slip on a pair of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans to feature in the brand’s fall advertising campaign. She joins German model and actress Tatjana Patitz, Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover model Elsa Benítez and American plus-size model Tara Lynn in the “We Are All One” campaign.
“I don’t model anymore,” Iman said. “I only do a few things that move me or with which I have associations. I did a Kenzo H&M ad because I knew Kenzo Takada and I did it years ago. But now I really only do special projects. I say ‘no’ more than I say ‘yes.’ So this is very unusual for me.”
What prompted Iman to say “yes” to Gloria Vanderbilt is that the campaign is about inclusion, a cause dear to her heart. “I know it’s about jeans, but for me, it’s all about inclusion and women,” she said. “It has a very timely tag line.”
She said she has two daughters, ages 39 and 16, so she is quite concerned about “everything that is going on in the world with women.”
“There is no better time than now to be a woman and collectively stand for, and with, women as we shift and reshape the future of all women,” she added.
The tag line is also intended to speak to Gloria Vanderbilt’s 40-year history as a jeans brand targeted to women of all shapes and sizes. According to the NPD Group’s Retail Tracking Service, Gloria Vanderbilt was the number-one women’s brand in terms of unit sales in North America in 2016.
Iman said she didn’t actually wear the brand’s jeans in their heyday of the Seventies, opting instead for Fiorucci or Levi’s. “I was either trendy or classic,” she said. “But I was very aware of designer jeans then. And jeans are as classic as a T-shirt, they never go out of style.”
These days she said her closet is filled with designer clothes, but she’s experiencing a dilemma. “I’m in a funny time,” she said. “At my age — I’m going to be 61 this month — I haven’t found what I like to wear as a uniform. I had foot surgery a couple of years ago and now I can’t wear heels.”
Iman said she used to be “that girl who dressed from the foot up. Shoes were the star of my outfit. And now I’m trying to get used to flats — and I can’t. But I have to grin and bear it.”
She said she was speaking to Manolo Blahnik about her problem and he acknowledged that “not all women can wear flats,” she said. “They either look elegant or frumpy and I have a feeling I’m the frumpy one.”
But Iman doesn’t look frumpy in the Gloria Vanderbilt ads, which launch in August.
The campaign is the newest iteration of the brand’s spring campaign, We Are One, which featured Patitz and Lynn. The addition of Iman and Benítez was intended to reflect the brand’s “diverse customer base, who share similar traits including unwavering strength, the ability to balance, the pursuit to achieve more and the desire to give back,” the company said.
“For decades, Gloria Vanderbilt Jeans has provided millions of women of all body types and sizes with the best-fitting jeans at an unparalleled value,” said Jack Gross, chief executive officer of One Jeanswear Group, which owns the brand. “Iman, Tatjana, Elsa and Tara truly exemplify the spirit of Gloria Vanderbilt jeans.”