BetaBrand Uses Models with PhDs

BetaBrand Uses Models with PhDs

We’ve all heard the argument that beauty comes in different shapes and sizes, hence Aerie’s Aerie Real campaign, Dove’s Campaign for Beauty, etc. but how many times do we hear that beauty is more than just one’s physical appearance? Betabrand, an online retailer based in San Francisco, became a first in fashion history when they elected to only use models that had a Ph.D. in their new spring line. In a society that preaches to girls from a young age that appearance is more desirable than intelligence, it is refreshing to see a fashion brand sending the complete opposite message.

According to Betabrand founder Chris Lindland, Betabrand founder told reporters, “When you look beyond the ranks of the professionally beautiful, photography becomes a lot more fun. Our designers cooked up a collection of smart fashions for spring, so why not display them on the bodies of women with really big brains? (Ciambrello, 2014).”

Betabrand’s choice of a campaign theme was most definitely a strategic fit for the brand; the clothing company sells clothing for the relaxed professional.

But with praise and attention often comes criticism. Many people were upset by the fact that Betabrand’s campaign lacked diversity. A vast majority of the models used in the Ph.D. campaign were conventionally attractive, mostly white, and slim (Mayer, 2014). While I can understand this argument, why criticize a good thing? Betabrand is the first ever fashion brand to put forth the idea that attractiveness can stem from something more than appearance. Recognizing beauty in all its forms is something that our society really struggles with today, and there are still many people out there who are not receptive to the use of all different types of models in the fashion industry (as sad as that is). To expect a single brand to use models of all shapes and sizes from different ethnicities while having a Ph.D. is somewhat ridiculous when you consider all of the other brands that are standing by doing nothing. Nothing is not even the right word; other brands are contributing to the notion that beauty is only skin deep and setting unattainable standards (i.e. Target and their junior bikini Photoshop mishap).

So despite all the criticism, I would just like to say thank you to Betabrand for being brave enough to break norms in the fashion industry and sending the message to women everywhere that intelligence is beautiful.

Mayer, E. (2014, March 11). Bustle. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

Ciambrello, R. (2014, March 11). Each Model for Betabrand’s New Spring Collection Has a Ph.D. | Adweek. Retrieved March 12, 2014, from

8 thoughts on “BetaBrand Uses Models with PhDs

  1. I love this idea. It’s something different and is leading by example for other companies and possibly the modeling industry itself. By doing this the brand is also capturing their target audience. They are getting the attention of higher educational individuals, along with others but really getting at their target audience. I think they want their target audience to be younger working individuals, who would really appreciate the message they are sending.


  2. I think it’s great that Betabrand is using models with PhDs. However, I agree with Mayer that they could have chosen a more diverse group of models. Not all women with PhDs are attractive, white, and slender.


  3. NIce idea, but it is hard to ignore Mayer’s statement. Obviously a company wants to use attractive models, but they could have at least put more effort into maintaining diversity. I think that is just something we as a society need to put more focus in.


  4. I thought this was a really good idea and there is criticism because it is not necessarily accurate in that all women who have PhDs are skinny, tall and attractive, but it is certainly a step in the right direction. The women maybe beautiful but all of the models have also worked for something as well. It is a good concept that can only be improved.


  5. I am obsessed with this campaign. What a brilliant idea! Society puts a strong emphasis on physical appearance, but what happened to brains? It’s important to create new role models for young people, and this was a fantastic way to approach it. It’s sad that people can name who won an Oscar or Grammy, but not many people know who won a Noble Peace Prize.


  6. I am a huge supporter of the new ways the fashion industry is beginning to brand their product. In a progressive culture, it seems natural to move beyond the stick thin, preteens modeling big name brands just because they fit in the clothes. More and more women are becoming highly educated, business leaders, and political bulldogs. Very few women (or should I say girls) represent what the fashion industry displays when marketing their brands. Therefore, I applaud Betabrand.


  7. I really like this idea! It’s important identify what’s on the inside, because that’s what is most important. I think people are always going to criticize something about an ad, and it happens to be diversity in this one, but you have to give them credit for talking about intelligence and not just looks.


  8. I am very proud of this company for taking this different approach. Obviously, there are people who will always criticize, but it is important to keep in mind that this is a very respectable ad. The underlying message is that intelligence is beautiful. Breaking norms in the fashion industry is also a beautiful thing.


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