Luxury retailer extraordinaire Barneys recently revealed its plans to use transgender models in their new, spring 2014 campaign—titled “Brothers, Sisters, Sons & Daughters.”
The clothing company’s mission with the new campaign is to allow transgender people the opportunity to be spotlighted, as gays and lesbians steadily have been in the last decade.
Barneys executives believe that the transgender community still receives much less support and acceptance than gays and lesbians. Compared to roughly eight million gay, lesbian, and bisexual individuals living in the United States, transgender people only make up about 700,000, according to the Williams Institute. Unemployment rates among the transgender community are at least double what they are for the rest of the population, and four times as high for trans people of color.
The manager of employment services at the LGBT Career Center in San Francisco, Clair Farley, told 429Magazine back in October 2013 that prior to 2013, transgender people were still being legally denied insurance benefits from their employers.
“While the lesbian, gay and bisexual community has made enormous strides in this country in this last five to ten years, it has always been glaring to me that the trans community has been left behind,” said Barneys’ creative director, Dennis Freedman. “It seemed an important time to do this.”
The campaign consists of seventeen transgender women and men from a variety of diverse racial backgrounds and countries; each model is paired with their own personal story, as covered by Vanity Fair’s Patricia Bosworth. Shot by famed photographer Bruce Weber, the ads will be featured in Vanity Fair and the New York Times, while a film about the models will run on Barneys’ blog.
“Our goal was to convey the strength, beauty and courage of these extraordinary individuals through the iconic photographs and films of Bruce Weber, as well as the insightful writing of Patricia Bosworth,” Freedman said in a statement.
“Great progress has been made in regards to the lesbian, gay and bisexual community. Unfortunately, the struggle for transgender equality continues. In the end, it is our hope that that we can make a difference through this campaign.”
On February 11, the company will donate 10 percent of that day’s profits from Barneys.com and eleven of its flagship stores to the National Center for Transgender Equality and the LGBT Community Center in New York. The two organizations will also help implement a training program on transgender issues for Barneys’ employees.