E Baring It All At American Eagle

"Beauty is truth, truth beauty, – that is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know" John Keats

Keats notwithstanding, American Eagle Outfitters (NYSE: AEO) is trying out what shouldn't be such a revolutionary thought--engaging real models in their ad campaigns, tattoos, muffin tops, and all--no Photoshopping. These aren't your "American stick insects" as referred to in Bridget Jones ' Diary.  They are Real Women like Unilever's Dove campaign (although they are professional models, these aren't your L Brands (NYSE: LB) Victoria's Secret supermodels and certainly not the anemic high fashion runway type.)

The company is initiating the new strategy with a social media engagement campaign on twitter and Instagram called Show Off Your #AERIEREAL. This iniative preceded a major stockphoto company’s announcement last month  to present less stereotypical images of women.

Aerie Real's Jenny Altman, a style/fit expert, told Good Morning America, "We left everything. We left beauty marks, we left tattoos, what you see is really what you get with our campaign." The campaign also kicks off a new online bra guide featuring real model wearing different cup sizes so women of all sizes can better visualize what it looks like on them. Accompanying this is an initiative they call, “Let your bedroom be the fitting room”, backing it up with free shipping and free returns of Aerie bras. At its bricks and mortar stores Aerie will feature fitting experts.

If you're a guy investor, you're thinking so what? What's so bad about Victoria's Secret, anyway?

Fantasy vs. reality

Nothing is wrong at L Brands. The big cap retailer continues to produce its mega-million production of the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show spectacular and the famous catalogs. The company has successfully created an international brand that women like. It has some 1,000 US stores and has been opening more of its very successful college co-ed targeted PINK freestanding stores.

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Annalisa Kraft has no position in these companies.

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