In the old days, a “nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” mentality dominated the modeling industry. But today, models are showing off their strong, healthy muscles, boasting about their sweaty selfies and boxing skills on social media, and shattering stereotypes about what a model should look like—and brands are taking notice.
Fitness brands like Nike, Puma, Adidas and Reebok have been tapping runway models—from Gigi Hadid to Karlie Kloss—to show off their toned and tough figures in the season’s hottest activewear, but the trend is finally crossing the aisle to high-fashion, most notably recently with the powerhouse female trainers from The DogPound.
Houghton, a high-end fashion line that blends couture and bridal pieces in the same mix-and-match way that athleisure and activewear blend together, is featuring 10 “real” women as the models in its latest campaign, three of whom are trainers at The DogPound.
And the move is not just a coincidence. After years of struggling with body image issues and an eating disorder, the founder and designer behind the Houghton, Katharine Polk, checked out The DogPound based on a recommendation from a friend. After a hesitant first meeting, Polk opened up to DogPound founder Kirk Meyers earlier this year. He encouraged her to try out a session—and she now trains at the studio five to six times a week.
When Polk decided to mold her fall/winter 2017 collection after real women, complete with a campaign video titled “The Houghton Girl,” the inclusion of DogPound trainers—Bianca Vesco, Dara Hartman, and Keyla Castillo—was a no-brainer.
“They have been so instrumental in my recovery,” Polk explains. “They have been such positive role models for me and other women at the gym, and I think they are doing something truly amazing.”
In an ethereal behind-the-scenes video of the 10 stars of the campaign (which also includes Lisa Salzer, founder of Lulu Frost jewelry, musician Morgan Grace, and Polk herself), the women discuss how they’ve struggled, how they’ve learned to love their bodies, and what truly empowers them today—all while wearing beautiful pieces from the upcoming collection, of course.
“I think that portraying a healthy ‘real body’ is an amazing and great direction the industry should be going in,” explains Polk. “I just want people to know that everyone goes through struggles and issues and we are not perfect, and that’s okay—we need more realness and anything that promotes health should be hero-ed.” (Amen to that!)
And that will continue to be the future of the industry if The DogPound ladies have anything to say about it: “Being part of ‘The Houghton Girl’ was a total dream. It felt so empowering to show people what real life is and not be afraid to talk about it,” explains Vesco. “There’s nothing glamorous about waking up at 4 a.m. and working a 15-hour day—and it’s okay! It’s okay to have the struggle, it’s what makes us tender, real, loving humans. Without the struggle, nothing great that happens to us would feel as rewarding as it does.”
In this election year, can we all vote to keep model realness as a trend far past 2017?
Scroll down to see the Houghton campaign trailer and photos from the fall/winter 2017 collection.
Feeling inspired to blend fitness and fashion in your own life? Here’s how to rock sneakers with your office-appropriate attire. Or check out these perfect-for-fall leather jacket-and-legging combos.