Fall is a time for brands to renew their marketing messages. This year, denim—accompanied by messages of friendship, individuality and joy—is the main character of several new campaigns.
From GapKids’ sentimental back-to-school storytelling, to the personal and virtual ways teen retailers are connecting with Gen Z, here’s a look at three campaigns that help put denim back in the spotlight.
Abercrombie gets personal
Denim-clad consumers star in Abercrombie & Fitch’s new social media campaign called “Denim Your Way.”
Featuring Abercrombie customers and fans as the models, including several social media personalities and influencers, the campaign is “ode to the brand’s commitment to denim comfort and fit, the campaign is the culmination of over a year of research, fit testing and customer interviews to create the brand’s best jeans yet,” Abercrombie stated.
The diverse, body-positive campaign reflects the brand’s evolution from exclusivity to inclusivity. Abercrombie’s fall denim collection is its most inclusive yet, with women’s sizes ranging from 23-37 in lengths from extra-short to long. The women’s collection spans ’90s straight fits and skinny jeans to dad and mom styles. Ripped knees and chopped hems add a vintage, worn-in look. The collection also includes Abercrombie’s Curve Love fits, designed with extra room in the thigh and constructed to help mitigate waist gaps.
The men’s line, available sizes 28-40 with various inseam lengths, ranges from ’90s slim and straight fits to super skinny and athletic skinny fits.
“Design can and should be just as inclusive as a marketing campaign,” said Corey Robinson, SVP and head of design and merchandising for Abercrombie & Fitch. “Inclusivity in design means listening to your customers from across the spectrum of life experiences to craft clothing that meets their needs. That can mean designing jeans to limit a waist gap, sourcing fabrics to flatter and appreciate varying bodies, considering the many gender experiences and identities of our customers, as well as innovating designs and fits that truly celebrate many forms and sizes.”
Any relationship’s success depends on one’s ability to listen, added Carey Collins Krug, SVP and head of marketing for Abercrombie & Fitch.
“We’ve doubled down on the fit of our denim, its feel and comfort, the quality of its construction and materials, the inclusivity of our sizing, and our range of styles,” she said. “When it came to crafting a campaign celebrating our denim, it only felt right to highlight those who inspired that commitment: our customers.”
American Eagle celebrates new styles
Though TikTok dance challenges were a popular respite during mundane days in quarantine, American Eagle (AE) is centering its back-to-school denim campaign called “Future Together. Jeans Forever” on the AR opportunities Snapchat and Bitmoji have to offer.
The brand, in partnership with Snapchat, is launching its Dress Yourself AR experience, a first-of-its-kind effort allowing users to try-on and shop selected looks from the denim collection. In March, AE also debuted the AE x Snapchat AR Jeans Guide, which allows Snapchat users to virtually twist or turn a pair of jeans and learn about specific fits, washes and unique details, as well as get styling tips and click to purchase.
Additionally, the brand is launching its first-ever digital clothing line with Bitmoji. Users worldwide can check out the campaign casts’ individual Bitmoji avatars, browse the AE x Bitmoji Collection on Snapchat, and use the Bitmoji app to update and dress their own Bitmoji in a selection of AE styles.
Based on “people excited to show off new styles as they head back into the world together,” the campaign shines a spotlight on favorites and new denim fits.
Stretch and comfort are emphasized in AE’s back-to-school collection for men. The line includes new Airflex+ Athletic Skinny, 360 Skinny, Temp Tech Athletic Skinny and 360 Slim fits. The women’s range of fashion jeans includes an updated take on a classic pleated tennis skirt and a high-rise relaxed fit Mom short. An array of comfortable fits like AE’s Mom Straight, Super High-Waisted Flare and Baggy Mom jeans round out the women’s assortment.
The campaign’s cast includes “Stranger Things” actor Caleb McLaughlin and “You” actress Jenna Ortega, as well as previous AE campaign stars like TikTok personality Addison Rae and “Outer Banks” actors Chase Stokes and Madison Bailey.
GapKids tugs at heartstrings
Gap welcomes kids back to school with a campaign that stars David Jamison, the Memphis, Tenn. teacher who grabbed a national spotlight in 2019 for the personalized handshakes he performs with his students each morning.
Photographed by Melodie McDaniel, the fall campaign captures the bond between Jamison and his fifth-grade students from Hickory Ridge Elementary School who represent “Individuals”—Gap’s “collective of unique change-makers across generations, leading the charge for a more inclusive, optimistic world together.”
“Jamison’s approach to teaching and commitment to his students as ‘individuals’ is inspirational and heartwarming,” said Mary Alderete, global head of Gap marketing. “He is equal parts champion and role model. Back to school is even more meaningful when many students are returning to the physical classroom for the first time in over a year.”
To kick off the campaign and celebrate the students starring within, Gap installed the iconic GapKids images of Jamison and his students on school grounds. In the images, children are dressed in denim button-down shirts, vintage-wash jeans, denim jackets and Gap’s signature logo hoodies.
The billboard was recently revealed at an in-person pep rally, welcoming Hickory Ridge Elementary back to school. Gap also donated hundreds of school uniform pieces and hoodies to support the students and families at Hickory Ridge Elementary School.
Gap has taken a community-led approach to marketing as of late. In March, Gap introduced a spring campaign with a cast of notable changemakers that serve as forces for good, including Aurora James, the founder and creative director of footwear brand Brother Vellies, tattoo artist Dr. Woo, advocate and co-editor of Black Futures Kimberly Drew, performer Mikhail Baryshnikov and more.