Dressbarn is upping its fashion game, and managing to poke fun at itself at the same time.
Today, the specialty chain reveals its fall 2015 campaign, which was shot by Patrick Demarchelier, features model Hilary Rhoda — and some barnyard animals. Talent like this, the 53-year-old company has never before rounded up.
“The name Dressbarn hasn’t always been associated with fashion and is often the target of jokes. We decided to have some fun with our name — run at it, not away from it,” said Lori Wagner, the retailer’s chief marketing officer and executive vice president of digital commerce.
Nevertheless, “This is a first for us to really represent the brand through a fashion lens,” Wagner said. “If you want to be taken seriously in the fashion world, you use a world-class photographer.”
Some of the campaign inspiration came from a photo taken by Demarchelier of a model and a bull. Dressbarn, the 830-store division of Ascena Retail Group Inc., for the past year has been strengthening its focus on dresses through collaborations with designers Carmen Marc Valvo, Heidi Weisel and Michael Smaldone from Adrianna Papell, and by creating dress shops inside the store to spotlight the category.
For the campaign, Rhoda shares the set with Wilbur the pig, Zoom the rooster, Winnie the baby goat, Mary Kate the sheep and Count the bull. She seemed torn between the dresses and the livestock. She said the dresses made her feel more beautiful and confident, while the animals were a lot of fun. “My favorite was the little goat named Winnie. She was just so cute and she had the prettiest blue eyes.”
The campaign was shot at Pier 59 Studios in New York City. Rhoda was styled by Anne Christensen. Hair was done by Teddy Charles and makeup was by Fulvia Farolfi. The campaign spans print, digital, outdoor, in-store and direct marketing.
At one time, Dressbarn considered a name change. “The name has been a constant source of people poking fun, but we have no intention of changing it,” Wagner said. “We did a pretty in-depth study around the brand and its strengths and challenges and concluded the name really wasn’t a barrier for people to try the brand. We don’t see why we should throw away 53 years of history. The relevancy of the fashion is going to come through. The name is secondary.”