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Yes, hosiery pictures aren't realistic, no, I won't pledge to ban photoshop and here's why

  • By Catherine Clavering
  • 1 comment

Yes, hosiery pictures aren't realistic, no, I won't pledge to ban photoshop and here's why

Last week I posted about some new hosiery styles we had in from Fiore, a budget-friendly brand based in Poland. 

Like a lot of hosiery-focussed brands, they tend to use very leggy models on largely abstract backgrounds, with some pretty heavy photoshop.

A short while later a commenter, who doesn't buy hosiery for themselves, dropped by to inform me that he didn't like the 'unrealistic' imagery because it's 'not enticing or inviting' for him.

As I apparently have not mentioned enough lately, I am not interested in what men find 'enticing' (or attractive, or sexy, or beautiful, or whatever other word we're using this week to try and get round my previous statements to this effect)

I also don't consider that a product image being 'unrealistic' is the be-all and end-all that some people do, and no, I don't agree that photoshop should be banned, as he argued. Here's why;

 

Left, 1; a 'real' shot from what my Sundays generally involve (can't get more authentic than cat litter, someone should tell AP). Selected from a series of about 25 automatically taken images and switched to black and white for comparison purposes.

Middle, 2; also me. Same day. Same hosiery. Same flat. Technically worse phone camera. Don't ask me about the argument this caused about working hours!

Right, 3; Fiore product image. I assume they shoot these with professionals, in a studio, and then heavily edit them.
They have to make something that can be used for both sales and print, as hosiery packaging is typically cardboard with a product image - when not on the leg hosiery is well, visually confusing to say the least  :)

What do you think makes the biggest change in product imagery? 

The fact that someone takes time over lighting, angle, background, styling, camera, etc? or final edits?

To my mind, image 2 has more in common with 3 than with 1, though perhaps I am biased.

Product images are never realistic about anything except the product, because they are there to sell the product.
As a secondary function they will sometimes be about communicating the nature of the brand, but in a pinch brands will focus on the first thing.

Obviously, I don't stand around in real life with my skirt hoiked up to show the type of hold-up top and 6 inch heels on (at least not since I was about 24) . Nor do I do strange poses to confuse people about my height and shape - I usually just distract them with my apparently very tall personality.

When I put image 2 on facebook and asked people to guess the height there was everything from 4'10 to 6'.  In real life, I'm 5'1 (155cm)  - and this sort of vagueness is why I have some problems with people insisting that some shots are realistic depictions of people and others aren't.  Photographs generally and fashion shots in particular are really not a great way of communicating about size and shape. 

(By the way, the people who figured out that this flooring only comes in certain sizes made the best guesses and now I have extra reasons to change it! Our neighbours accidentally set fire to theirs last month and we've since been told that it's highly combustible and not recommended for this area of the flat. Mildly worrying)

A much less edited shot from Uye Surana, who for manufacturing and brand reasons generally go for a less 'shopped look, with a focus on their size range. Aligned models in similar poses are more useful for helping to demonstrate that.

A lot of hosiery 'photography' is definitely at the extreme end of the strange process of fashion imagery and can end up well into uncanny valley - it would be more accurate to call it product illustration than photography. 
If you dislike, that's ok - it is starting to shift, and you can help that along by just not buying from brands that use it. Believe me, companies pay a lot more attention to sales figures than to social media comments. Social media arguments just feed the publicity machine, these days, we're basically rewarded for producing strong opinions.



Our latex stockings (bespoke, made to measure by Rose Noir Couture). Core KMD imagery is pretty heavily stylised and will have been through a photoshop phase. Shots I do won't have, because as anyone who has dealt with me can tell you, I am a terrible photographer, don't even own a copy of Photoshop, and can't use a smartphone properly because of muscle issues! :)

Finally, I also got asked in the process of this what my willingness to use a Fiore image means about my politics or values.

Nothing. Not a sausage.
I promise you that I wake up every morning and think about sales figures, not praxis.
I try and make sure we stock brands that have a wider range of sizes than I can manage on our own. I try and make sure there's a variety of people in the images; in 2020 I was pretty bad at that because of the UK being heavily restricted, and because of my own disability and the extra limits that's meant. This year should improve.

I realise a lot of people are spending a lot more time than usual thinking carefully about the media they see, and that's a good thing.
But I beg of you, don't look to businesses for coherent value systems. Anyone who wanted to make a point, rather than a profit, would have set up a pressure group, or a social enterprise, or a charity.
Businesses sell products, that is their sole reason to fill in all their paperwork. I'm pretty sure that's true of the vast majority of businesses, whatever big PR pledge campaigns they might be running.

So, what to do for those of you who hate the Fiore brand photos? Well, I've started a list here of hosiery places I can think of, why not leave your hosiery experiences in the comments? I'm always open to new brand suggestions :)
 
We work with or have worked with;
Uye Surana
Playful Promises
What Katie Did
Rose Noir Couture
Gerbe
Pamela Mann
Gio
Cervin (in terms of products they are probably my personal favourite. Very edited images for the catalogue shots though if that's your focus)

I'm probably missing a few!

Personally I shop with these places;
UK Tights
Wolfords (the most expensive and exclusive, but so good)
Funn Hosiery - if you can find these they are amazing vintage and modern repro pieces
Maude Nibelungen
I hear good things about;
Snag
Heist (these don't work for me)

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