Fashion + Diversity

How M&S are striking the Balance Between Being Diverse and Aspirational

With over 33 million customers worldwide, it is safe to say that Marks & Spencer are one of the big dogs in the supermarket fashion world. Established in 1884, over the years M&S have seen a huge shift in what is considered inclusive and diverse and with this, they have taken a lead in pushing diversity further in the high street fashion campaigns and runways.

CEO Steven Rowe has stated that M&S are aware that there is still a lot of work to do in terms of inclusivity within the company and has made stakeholders aware that “you think you get it right , but there are always improvements to be made”. However, he went on to say that as long as mistakes are acknowledged and rectified then Marks & Spencer will evolve for the better and remain authentic.

In the M&S breast cancer campaign ‘Breast Cancer Now’, models from a variety of different ethnic backgrounds that are all different shapes and sizes can be seen sharing a strong bond over their journey with breast cancer while portraying a hugely powerful message. M&S have acknowledged that they are aware of how broad their customer base is and are passionate about ensuring that all customers feel considered and included in order to improve diversity in the industry.

How M&S are working to Improve Diversity in High Street Fashion

Seniors at Marks and Spencer claim that inclusivity and diversity within their fashion department is still considered a work in progress and is paramount in the development of the business going forward. This is shown through CEO Steve Rowe responding urgently to let stakeholders know that they are taking action to support the Black Lives Matter movement through supporting and including those who may feel pushed to the side.

M&S have also spoken out about using their platform across social media to change outdated and discriminating opinions in order to encourage diversity and follow their core value of being authentic. Marketing leaders intend on changing the way we see online abuse by addressing discriminative and hateful comments instead of turning a blind eye to the abuse. They have explained that every time a brand ignores harmful content, it makes it that “little bit more acceptable”. Brands need to stand up to this behaviour in order to influence positivity and diversity in the fashion sector.

Equal Opportunities in M&S Marketing Campaigns

It is clear that Marks & Spencer are working to over come the challenges that minorities face day to day by being inclusive and welcoming in their advertising campaigns. This includes offering equal opportunities for models of all different shapes and sizes and from all ethnic backgrounds. M&S have also introduced using members of the public with a powerful story to tell, as opposed to using the caucasian, slim celebrities that have been considered the ‘norm’ up until now. This can be seen through giving people a voice through simplistic video campaigns in order to educate its 33 million diverse customer base on realistic beauty standards showing authenticity and inclusion.

Although M&S are aware that they still have a lot of work to do in terms of enforcing inclusivity throughout the fashion sector on our high streets, they are also very aware of the importance of diversity in marketing campaigns in order to make every member of its titanic customer base feel welcomed and included. The voice that has been given to minorities to speak out and share their story using the Marks & Spencer platform has shaped an overall euphoric bond between groups, showing that underneath all that we are portrayed as physically, we are all equal.

By Emily Halsall

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