Sans Models

So, I must have hit the catalog jackpot, because every so often, out of the blue, I’ll get some random catalog I know I did not request. I love catalogs and I do request my fair share, but not the one I just received. Because it appears a lot of people are fascinated by catalog models, especially those quirky Boden models, I was intrigued when I got this catalog, NorthStyle, and saw that they do NOT use models.

NorthStyle Catalog

Well, they do have pants models, but their torsos (and heads) are cut off. Pourquoi? Maybe their business model (pun intended) doesn’t include the cost of models or models with good-looking torsos.

NorthStyle Pants Model

Of course, as demonstrated here, they do have the cost of a wind machine or a whole lot of starch built into their budget. How did they get this skirt to flare like that?

Breezy Dress

I’m okay with not using models. J. Peterman uses only illustrations and that’s a well-thought out catalog, but I just think NorthStyle is giving the geographic North a bad rep with selections like this:

Bandana Pants

I mean really? Do I want to feel like I’m 12 years old whose mom (who couldn’t pick out 2 crayons that don’t clash if her life depended on it let alone the fact that she believes the junior sections of JC Penney and Kohl’s are just too scandalous) laid out this outfit for me, saying that the bandana pants are just soooo cute? Moooooom! I’m not 3! I want cool clothes!

Put some models in those clothes! Please!

Catalogs Doing It Right

There are some catalogs that I get excited about when they arrive. Sure, I’m a fan of the clothing, but I’m more in love with the copy. I’ll pore over these flimsy booklets and carefully examine every page, sometimes going through them twice. There’s no explanation for my obsession with companies whose heritage is rooted in the mail-order business (specifically ones selling outdoorsy clothing), but when companies send me tantalizing words, I can’t resist.

Let’s take a look!

First up, a relatively recent discovery: Boden

Boden Catalog

Take a look inside:

Wait for it…

Model’s Answer

Heck yes! Either Boden asks their models a ton of questions or they make things up about them. Either way, it’s interesting, portrays the models as real women and gets me to look at every single page of the catalog.

Next up: title nine

title nine catalog

Here it is:

title nine model profile

title nine will print a short profile on some of their models. As if this company didn’t make you want to high five a sister anyway, they have to go show that these women are just like me!

Alright, here’s another: Duluth Trading Co.

Duluth Trading Co.

And again:

Duluth Model

A little tidbit about the model makes perusing the catalog a joy.

Now, Eddie Bauer does it a little differently.

Eddie Bauer Catalog


Eddie Bauer Spread

Here it is:

Eddie Bauer Product Description

Ah-ha! A sweater named after the Stine Bauer! (By the way, this is a revamped version of the Stine Cardigan that was out a year or so ago.) By naming clothes after people, we get to feel like we’re that person when we wear it. This is a bit more aspirational than introducing the models to the readers, but it has a similar effect.

The personal copy in these catalogs doesn’t necessarily translate to the web very well. There’s too much to click on when you’re sitting at the computer. (Duluth Trading Co. has some pretty hilarious videos, though.) Because of this interesting copy, it’s still worth requesting a physical catalog every once and awhile.

What I like about this approach is that unlike some clothing companies that make you think “I wish I was her” with their highly stylized models and photographs with a certain mystique, these companies make you think, “I am her!” Or, maybe you still think “I wish I was her,” but these women lead a more realistic, attainable lifestlye.