Aerie’s Journey to $1B: #AerieREAL Power of Positivity

Over the next several weeks, to celebrate Aerie’s incredible milestone of reaching $1B in sales, we’ll be sharing stories about the history and evolution of one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands in retail today! From boybrief undies on a single table in AE stores, to the #AerieREAL movement and the launch of OFFL/NE and Unsubscribed—Aerie has unleashed the power of positivity and inclusivity, encouraging customers around the world to love their real selves!

The Power of REAL

When Jen Foyle, Chief Creative Officer AEO Inc. & Aerie Global Brand President, joined the company in 2010, she brought passion, innovation and the creative spark to lead the team that has made Aerie one of the fastest growing lifestyle brands in the market.

The magic moment came in 2014. After nearly a decade of success, the Aerie team knew their mission of positivity and self-love could be so much more. Aerie was developing amazing product and there was an overwhelming excitement to grow the brand. That’s when the Aerie team challenged themselves: “What else can we do for our customers?”

The creative teams came up with a revolutionary idea of capturing real, unretouched beauty in what we know now as the #AerieREAL campaign.

Featuring models of all sizes in Photoshop-free photos,  Aerie marketed the latest collection of bras, undies and apparel, all while demonstrating that the real you is the best you.

“The purpose of ‘#AerieREAL’ was to let our customers know that there is no reason to retouch beauty, while giving young women of all shapes and sizes the chance to discover amazing styles that work best for them,” said Jen Foyle. “We wanted to help empower women to be confident in themselves and in their bodies.”

The #AerieREAL campaign was an important turning point in the evolution of the brand, which always celebrated its customers’ unique spirit and optimism. By challenging the traditional standards of beauty, Aerie sparked a conversation with their customers about loving your real self. The campaign grew into a mission that continues today.

The REAL You is Sexy

After the launch of #AerieREAL, the news media lauded Aerie as an industry leader for bringing body positivity to the forefront. Customers around the world were inspired and empowered by the campaign to start sharing photos of themselves, completely unretouched, using the hashtag #AerieREAL on social media.  Aerie saw more than 42,000 tweets and over 9,000 Instagram photos shared using the hashtag and celebrating the power of #AerieREAL! The brand took a stance and declared that the supermodel standard of beauty was no longer the standard – REAL was.

Check out the features on The Today Show and Good Morning America, highlighting The #AerieREAL campaign.

It wasn’t just all media praise, either. After launching #AerieReal, sales grew 20 percent in fiscal year 2015 . Customers were moved by the campaign, and wanted to shop a brand where they felt the marketing and the clothes represented them.

Aerie became a celebration of authenticity and being your REAL self, away from the traditional, sleek, sexy and risqué models that the intimate industry often highlighted.

“We definitely had a creative moment where the team got together, and we just said, ‘Really, what’s happening today with millennials and the next generation?'” Jen told Business Insider. “And we really felt like girls today are just more independent and stronger than ever. We just knew that it would really resonate with this generation.”

REAL Growth

Aerie’s growth has been nothing short of spectacular since the launch of #AerieREAL.

Over the past seven years, Aerie has nurtured #AerieREAL into a worldwide movement that has touched the lives of millions of women and girls.  From #AerieREAL Role Models, the #AerieREAL Changemakers, to the #AerieREAL Life Blog—being REAL is part of Aerie’s DNA.