In light of the controversy surrounding the Bangladesh clothing factory fires, as well as H&M’s new workers rights agreement, Metro took the opportunity to speak with CEO Karl-John Persson. The interview quickly turned to other industry hot topics, like model casting dilemmas and the too-thin images they can present. On the subject of model health, Persson made a staggering admission: that H&M has irresponsibly used models that are too thin.
“I don’t think we’ve always been good. Some of the models we’ve had have been too skinny. That’s something we think a lot about and are working on. We want to show diversity in our advertising and not give people the impression that girls have to look a particular way. By and large, I think we’ve succeeded: we’ve many different kinds of models from different ethnic backgrounds. In our last campaign we had a somewhat more buxom model, and now we’re having Beyoncé, who’s a bit curvier as well.”
With such a wide-ranging customer base, we agree that it’s especially important that H&M makes a point of using models of all shapes and sizes, as well as not white-washing their campaigns. We applaud Persson for keeping it real and admitting there have been mistakes in the past, since in so many other cases companies jump straight to deny, deny, deny.
The brand’s actions also speak loudly, as not long after they released their Beyoncé campaign, the company unveiled a swimwear catalog featuring Jennie Runk, a plus-size model. Even so, Persson doesn’t seem ready to take the industry by storm and encourage his competitors to address the model weight issue. He’s even a bit unclear on where he’ll be drawing the line in the future:
“There are models who’re too thin or obviously underweight, but there are also those who’re just thin, and they’re the ones we should keep working with, as long as they look sound and healthy. We can get more disciplined, because sometimes there have been mistakes. “