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Inclusivity Without Fanfare: Nettle's Tale Swimwear Lookbook

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I'm not sure how I heard first heard of Nettle's Tale. Maybe on Twitter. Or perhaps Bustle. All I know is that I've had them bookmarked for a little while as an example of a company doing this inclusivity thing right.

Made in Vancouver, BC, Nettle's Tale has an appropriately Pacific Northwest mood. Super chill. Very casual. Completely unstructured. While I sometimes like to imagine myself as a glamorous poolside swan, honestly, this lake mermaid vibe is much closer to who I am.

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As mentioned above, Nettle's Tales models are quite diverse, covering an impressive range of body types, ages, and ethnicities. Yet, unlike other recent campaigns, they've not chosen to position themselves as "the most diverse ever." The imagery is simply presented without comment, as part and parcel of their branding and how they want to be seen by the world.

More importantly, this diverse imagery is present on the pages where you actually buy the product. It's not a case where a specific, one-time campaign is somewhat diverse but everything else adheres to traditional industry beauty standards. This strikes me as a much more honest treatment of opposed to a simple PR grab.

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Nettle's Tales swim collection is simple and relatively unstructured, but I don't see that as a negative. Rather these suits feel accessible to a wide range of people. That accessibility is reflected in their size chart which goes up to a 4X in some styles.

The models are shown in a relaxed and natural way, not posed into extraordinary positions or photoshopped to "perfection." The entire presentation is eminently appealing. I want to be a part of this world, and that's how any good lookbook should make you feel.

With so much "body positive" marketing out there right now, it can be difficult to separate the brands talking about diversity from the brands actually doing it. It's always nice when you run across one of the latter. Nettle's Tale's swimwear collection can be shopped here.

What are your thoughts on the brand and their imagery? Would you give them a try? And if you liked this post, please give it a share on Facebook!

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Cora Harrington

Founder and Editor in Chief of The Lingerie Addict. Author of In Intimate Detail: How to Choose, Wear, and Love Lingerie. I believe lingerie is fashion too, and that everyone who wants it deserves gorgeous lingerie.

5 Comments on this post

  1. Loey says:

    Wow, what a great brand! I love these photos! I can genuinely see myself wearing these suits thanks to the wonderful models they chose. It’s beautiful. Thank you so much for highlighting them!

  2. Connie says:

    Hello Cora! Firstly I want to say that this campaign really appealed to me because it looks more like a group of genuine friends taking pics on a beach day than an official photoshoot.

    Secondly, there was a Refinery29 article a few months back about an anonymous retoucher (“Sarah”) who did work for Victoria’s Secret and was spilling T on the industry and her employer. Sarah basically said that Victoria’s Secret tried using more plus-sized models at one point (without making it a giant PR point), but sales actually decreased. She also said that the reason why Aerie’s body positive campaign is so successful is because they ARE making it a giant PR point. Of course, this is just one article from a possibly biased or unreliable source, but it did raise an interesting question: is it really “better” for brands to be unobtrusive about their inclusivity? You’ve deconstructed the Aerie campaign before and concluded that it may not actually be as inclusive as it claims; however, people are clearing buying into their branding and are supporting it with their money. This Nettie’s Tales campaign is gorgeous and like you, I appreciate that they’re not using diversity as a PR gimmick. However, I’m afraid that by not doing so, they probably won’t get as much recognition and financial support, which may hurt them and other cool smaller brands. What do you think?


    • Cora says:

      Ooh…this is a good point, and I’m really glad you made it.

      I don’t think it’s necessary or required or even particularly useful (as you’ve hinted at) for brands to draw no attention at all to more diverse campaigns when they do them. The groups these campaigns are likely targeting with their inclusivity marketing want to hear about them, and a good PR push – like any other PR push – is a great way to connect with that target audience and let them know you exist so they can have you in mind for future purchases, recommend you to their friends, post your stuff to social media, and that sort of thing. So…while I do like the relative inobtrusiveness of Nettle’s Tale’s lookbook, and while that may personally appeal to me, a more proactive PR presence wouldn’t be out of line here. I also just did a quick Google search and they have been mentioned before on sites like Bustle and The Huffington Post, so it’s entirely possible I missed their first big PR push a couple of years (though admittedly PR is the sort of thing you have to do consistently for long term results).

      What bothers me about Aerie’s campaign or even the more recent Curvy Kate campaign isn’t the diversity of the models (of course), but the way these campaigns are being marketed as the “most” body positive or the “most” diverse. I think there’s something very disingenuous about brands operating within rather tightly defined standards of beauty defining their campaigns as groundbreaking or boundary shattering. That said, if I put my business hat on, I also have to acknowledge those campaigns are working. They’ve both received a ton of media coverage, and the average consumer is quite happy to go along with their respective marketing spiels. It’s a sad truth that many people don’t think critically about the advertising being presented to them.

      So I guess my position can be summarized as PR is good and every brand needs at least some PR. I believe many brands are disingenuous in the way they approach body positivity or inclusivity marketing, but it seems to work. And if the goal is sales and awareness, then indie brands have to be able to compete – while staying authentic to their own brand voice and mission.

      I hope that wasn’t too rambly? I probably should have waited until tomorrow to reply, but I wanted you to know I read your comment and thought it was a good one.

  3. KN says:

    Hi! Long time reader, first time commentator: thanks for bringing this brand to my attention. First, for the coolness of the swimwear; the Kimberley and the Brittany bikini tops both look like tops I can swim in and feel fun in. And second for the understated inclusivity and ‘natural’ attitude in the models and the whole shoot. Not that really high concept, ultra fantastical lookbooks and ads aren’t great; they are! But it’s also nice to see a different side of swimwear. Not gonna lie, when I saw that picture of the woman in the bikini and Irish sweater, I was like, “It’s ME!”

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