No one left behind: Inclusivity wins

Seeing is believing

A household name, Barbie has faced its fair share of discourse in the past 64 years for perpetuating unattainable beauty ideals and neglecting cultural and ethnic representation. With the release of the much-anticipated movie, Mattel is turning this around by going beyond surface-level differences to feature diverse characters from different communities, cultures, races, abilities and body types. At its essence, Barbie is an inspiration for people to break free from the shackles holding them back.

Source: Barbie via Daily News
Barbie Movie

“My hope for the movie is that it’s an invitation for everybody to be part of the party and let go of things that aren’t necessarily serving us as either women or men.”

Earlier this year, Barbie honoured seven female leaders of STEM worldwide with one-of-a-kind dolls made in their likeness. Introducing girls to the stories of extraordinary women ignites a powerful realisation within them — that they can be anything, even in careers that might not always seem as accessible. Brands should play a role in acknowledging the actions and mindsets perpetuating biases and reshaping societal norms.

Source: Barbie via Mattel
Barbie’s STEM Dolls

Women only account for 28% of the workforce in STEM. The power of imagination, while significant, is just the beginning; witnessing tangible examples of women who have broken through the glass ceiling makes all the difference. Their stories of resilience and determination instill the conviction that no dream is too grand and no goal too ambitious. 

One of many

Being a role model or the first woman to achieve success is great. But making history simply because they are the first or only women to succeed? It is high time brands rewrite the narrative.

“The title of being the first might be momentarily nice. But the bigger picture: You want to be one amongst many.”

Mercedes-Benz proudly champions the global She’s Mercedes initiative to foster dialogues with women around the world. This progressive endeavour transcends making history or settling for superficial representation; instead, striving for a future where women’s voices are celebrated. By placing women at the forefront, Mercedes-Benz sets a precedent for the industry to welcome a diverse and empowered community that wishes to be one of many.  

The brand recognises that equal opportunities are no longer enough and has taken steps to drive change. From the Power Suit Project to the Women’s Executive Network (WXN), She’s Mercedes is dedicated to inspiring confidence and ambition in the generations to come.

Source: Mercedes-Benz
She’s Mercedes The Power Suit Project

The campaign’s global reach is evident. In Thailand, a powerful talk session titled ‘From Great to Best’ spurred women to unlock their full potential. Meanwhile, India witnessed a special all-woman soirée, held in collaboration with Vogue India, to honour the indomitable spirit of women who made great strides in their respective fields. China saw an empowering initiative where users shared stories of the relentless pursuit of their dreams. Notably, one of the top influencers on Xiaohongshu, CoCo attested to Mercedes-Benz vehicles being a constant companion, giving her the liberating sense of freedom to go wherever she wants to go.

Source: She’s Mercedes via Jing Daily
She’s Mercedes Global Execution

It is worth noting that Mercedes-Benz itself is named after two remarkable women — automotive pioneer, Bertha Benz and daughter of Austrian vehicle dealer, Mércèdes Jellinek. This powerful legacy fuels the brand’s commitment to advocating for a modern, luxury automotive experience that resonates with women and men in each corner of the world.

Leaving exclusivity behind

Inclusion is not limited to gender and female empowerment. It encapsulates authentically representing and engaging individuals from various backgrounds, identities, cultures and experiences. Authentic inclusivity is not only the right choice, but also a strategic one. In a world where inclusivity is the driving force behind modern success, brands that insist on being exclusive will not survive. Recognising this, Abercrombie & Fitch left their exclusivity behind to embody a bold and all-encompassing vision that celebrates individuality in its truest form.

“Why do brands rebrand? Because they’ve outgrown themselves. Because they’ve to stay current and relatable. A good (re)brand has the power to impact growth by shaping opinions and shifting perspectives. In Abercrombie & Fitch’s case, the exercise managed to revive the business. By ditching the ostentatious exclusive brand association to being a well-embraced inclusive brand of this generation.”

“Denim Your Way” was launched with an uplifting motto: Style knows no size and fashion knows no body type. With an unyielding dedication to inclusivity, Abercrombie takes on the challenge of designing the ultimate universal jeans where comfort, quality and perfect fit converge. Crafted with fabrics that flatter and sculpt various body types, this denim range is the brand’s most inclusive to date.

Source: Abercrombie & Fitch via Sourcing Journal
Abercrombie & Fitch’s Universal Jeans

“At Abercrombie, we encourage a culture of belonging, rather than merely fitting in…We recognise that everybody is unique, and since we put the customer at everything we do, it’s clear that the way the industry thinks about developing product and fit needs to evolve to cater to customer needs – not the other way around.”

From forging diverse brand partnerships to expanding size ranges and enriching store experiences, Abercrombie demonstrates the importance of creating a welcoming space where everyone feels represented and celebrated. While focusing on being trendy, emphasis is also placed on ensuring that fashion-forward products can be enjoyed by all, without exception.

Inclusivity 2.0

Inclusive branding is not just a fleeting trend. Consumers today expect more than just products; they seek brands that mirror their values. Brands must go beyond tokenism, delving into societal issues that perpetuate inequalities and underrepresentation. What can brands do? Promoting diversity and fostering an inclusive culture is a step in the right direction.

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