Comment counts: What Jigsaw can teach us about the need to challenge fashion stereotypes in advertising

There’s an air of creative conservatism in today’s fashion campaigns, with little or no meaning behind the majority of them, says Neil Simpson of The Corner. Using Jigsaw as a point of reference, he proves exactly why brands need to stand for something in order to stand out.


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Step onto London’s Oxford Street at any time of the day, any time of the year, and it’s not just packed – it’s heaving. Heaving with people filling their hands with bags of high street fashion and cosmetics, and you can bet your bottom dollar they’ll be back again in a couple of weeks for their next fix of retail therapy.

So much so, “Fast Fashion” has been the dominant system on the high street for around 15 years. Recognised names ruthlessly replicate catwalk fashion at speed and manipulate the high street with a relentless stream of low-cost fashion. As such, consumers are charged with a “Buy, Dispose, Repeat” mentality.

As one of the founders of The Corner, an independent advertising agency, I’m concerned with how this has left a very saturated – and very bland – advertising landscape. Fashion ads are increasingly conforming to a world that is disposable and homogeneous, and this has bred an air of creative conservatism across fashion campaigns. With little or no meaning behind them, the majority of ad campaigns become shop windows to introduce a new range – failing to provide the brand with the substance it needs to stand out in the fashion world.

In this digital age, it’s no longer enough to simply advertise product. Brands need a platform that brings the whole company together, integrates everything it does and stands for and, most importantly, creates a sense of purpose. This is exactly what we embedded into our creation of Jigsaw’s brand essence, “Style and Truth”. This core idea now provides the basis for everything from a new collection to a window or collaboration, as well as Jigsaw’s ad campaigns.

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Style and Truth is based on quality and permanence in the face of superficiality, speed and short-terms – something human, contemporary and provocative that empowers people not to follow the herd, but to instead discover their own style. And there doesn’t have to be fireworks, rainbows and unicorns either. Simplicity is the very spirit of style – and no matter the newest fad, trend or seasonal craze, style is perpetual.

Style is also very personal. But how can brands promote such a personal message? By encouraging controversial thinking. Our launch of Style and Truth displayed bold and oxymoronic visuals, which defiantly went against typical fashion slogans. Regardless of what’s ‘in’ or what’s ‘back’, Jigsaw is challenging the fashion stereotypes and standing out.

This in turn set the scene for Jigsaw’s “For Life Not Landfill” campaign, which championed the durability of quality, ethically sourced statement pieces. Likewise, with our most recent “Lived Not Modelled” campaign – during the initial brainstorms we thought if the clothes are worn in normal situations, in contrast to the glamourous Monaco poolside shots everyone expects, it would permit freedom for the models to freestyle on the shoot. The result was an authentic and refreshing final piece of work.

“Following fashion” is the very phrase fashion brands need to get away from in order to truly define themselves. Feeding this mindset into Jigsaw’s recent advertising campaigns has helped The Corner portray a unique style that the brand’s customers can identify with.

Fashion brands must stand for something, in their advertising campaigns and beyond, or else risk fading into the crowd.

Neil Simpson is the founder of independent advertising agency, The Corner. Comment Counts is a series of opinion pieces from experts within the industry. Do you have something to say? Get in touch via info@fashionandmash.com.