Public outcry on social networking website, Twitter, has created such a storm (even bordering a PR disaster) that it has forced high-street retailer, Topman, to remove two offensive t-shirts from both shops and online.
While slogan t-shirts are usually of bad taste, read cliché messages and/or are tacky, you have to wonder, surely these misogynistic messages must have raised a few eyebrows in the buying or public relations department? One of the t-shirts in question reads “Nice New Girlfriend: What Breed Is She?”, while the other lists a series of excuses for an apparent act of domestic violence, including “You provoked me”, “I was drunk” and, “I hate you”.
It comes as no surprise that I’m not won over by American Apparel or Dov Charney’s antics. I can’t respect a man who is quite clearly, well, a bit of a prick. Focusing on the company, however, one of American Apparel’s more distasteful policies is their long-held refusal to make plus-size products or to market to over size 10s at all. At present, a ‘large’ fits a small size 12. Their reasoning? Plus-sized women “aren’t their demographic.”
In a backhanded attempt at an olive branch (or perhaps their repositioning amid new fears they’ll be bankrupt very soon), American Apparel launched an online competition to find a plus size model to be the face and body of their new XL line. The XL line that would be for sizes 14 to 16, the average size of a woman in the UK.
Reversing the normal rules of product endorsement, Abercrombie & Fitch have offered a “substantial” sum to Michael “The Situation” Sorrentino – or any cast member from MTV’s popular ‘reality’ show Jersey Shore – not to wear their clothes.
In a report released in August, a spokesperson for the preppy teen retailer said, “We are deeply concerned that Mr Sorrentino’s association with our brand could cause significant damage to our image. We have therefore offered a substantial payment to Michael ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino and the producers of MTV’s Jersey Shore to have the character wear an alternate brand. We have also extended this offer to other members of the cast, and are urgently waiting a response.”
When 24-year-old Roland Bunce entered Next’s “Make Me the Next Model” competition he couldn’t have known the extent to which the public would embrace his submission.
Amongst hundreds of images of beautiful young things it was Bunce, who is perhaps not what might be considered classically handsome, who stood out. Thanks to his kindly smile – and tens of thousands of social media users on Reddit, The Poke, Twitter and Facebook – he is now the most voted for entrant..
Next’s competition invites modelling hopefuls to submit a picture of themselves online. Visitors to the site can then vote for their favourite, the top 250 will then be shortlisted down to 50 by a panel of “industry experts”, with the eventual winner being treated to £2,000 of Next gift cards, a contract with Storm modelling agency and “the chance to star in a Next photoshoot”.
Well that’s great, but it seems like the public are getting a bit fed up of the exclusive nature of fashion and this social media retaliation should send a warning because, hey, we all wear clothes. So far, Bunce, the partying and wrestling enthusiast, has been “liked” by 34,000 people on Next’s Facebook button, way ahead of the number two favourite, who had an incomparable 97 likes. Michele Hanson wrote for The Guardian:
“It’s John Sergeant and Strictly Come Dancing all over again but better, because this seems to be the public having a pop at the ghastly fashion world, with its blemish-free, pouty, stick models poncing about in odd garments that most of the rest of us wouldn’t dare, or want, to wear. And even if we wanted to, many of us couldn’t, because they wouldn’t be in our size.”
Instead of embracing Bunce, however, some of the media seemed almost angry with the campaign; I imagine that they’re still not over Rage Against The Machine getting to Number One in the Christmas charts. The Daily Mail went so far as to say the competition was sabotaged (although this has now been edited out).
Grazia were quick to respond with the article “Next’s Model Search – HIJACKED” and stated “…we have been excitedly championing this opportunity to find a new talent in the modelling world”. Read “new talent” as, “We want a rehash of what’s already out there as to ensure that Next’s publicity campaign goes to their plan,” and you’re a little bit closer to the truth. They continue with, “So it is with a slightly heavy heart that we ask fashion fans everywhere to redress the balance on Next’s website…Sorry Roland”. Despite the light-hearted manner the message was there, “Stop voting for Roland Bunce”. It was this statement, particularly, that seemed to anger readers who responded with comments such as:
“I’m voting for Roland and others like him because I think it’d be nice for Next to use the type of people who actually spend money in their stores, rather than tall and beautiful 18 year olds who really buy their clothes from H&M and Topshop.”
“So it is with a slightly heavy heart that we ask fashion fans everywhere to redress the balance on Next’s website and help the fashion label promote some genuine future talent for the industry”….. Are you serious?! It`s comments like this that make people feel awful about themselves and leads to disorders like anorexia. You should surely be more responsible in your attitude! Who are you to say that Roland isn’t genuine talent? Ask Next what they sell and I reckon a good percentage of it will be to plus size customers. Stupid, stupid comment.”
“Sorry but we are not all wrong – I personally would rather see Roland than rakes!”
“This article is a complete disgrace. It is these sorts of attitudes that lead to eating disorders, anxiety and other mental health problems. You need to try and write a bit more responsibly. Maybe you should take a leaf out of Rage Models’ book and embrace a concept of beauty that is a bit more inclusive.”
However, for Next it’s all publicity, Storm Model Management said, “’We’re thrilled that this year’s event has captured the public’s imagination. Make Me The Next Model 2011 has become the model competition to enter. Entries are up by 1000% on last year, and there are some great faces to watch out for. We would encourage everybody interested in modelling to send in their pictures.”
Obviously Storm are aware that no matter how many votes Bunce gets he still has the substantial obstacle of getting past the judges at boot camp before he can be considered the winner. What an amazing PR opportunity for Next that would be.
Despite making it to the final 250 contestants, beating more than 5,000 hopefuls Roland Bunce posted the following comment on with Facebook page:
“Just to let you all know I am quitting the next model contest. It was a big honour to win and it’s been fun but the amount of abuse I’ve been getting since Thursday is out of control and I’ve now just been threatened. Thanks to everyone who has supported me but I am now bowing out before this gets any worse.”
Tom Ford’s comeback to womenswear after a six year absence is fashion meganews. However the most highly anticipated fashion launch in recent years left fashionistas out on the pavement as only the most V of VIPs were invited to the exclusive event.
When Ford showed the collection in New York on September 12 only 100 fashion royalty guests were invited, photographers weren’t given access and he banned all journalists from revealing the collection. The newly elusive designer, who created the sexed-up Gucci/YSL look in the nineties, is doing things differently this time. In an interview with US Vogue he claims that he despises sections of the press and he objects to the way the internet eats up fashion images before the clothes can be bought. His decision to host an anti-publicity runway tossed bloggers, Twitterers and reporters into a quagmire of frustration. My own report on the non-collection was similarly vague.
US Vogue, December issue
US Vogue, December issue
US Vogue, December issue
Harper’s Bazaar, January issue
Beyonce, Tom Ford s/s 2011
Liya Kebede, Tom Ford s/s 2011
Lauren Hutton, Tom Ford s/s 2011
Stella Tennant, Tom Ford s/s 2011
Daphne Guinness, Tom Ford s/s 2011
However, just weeks before the collection hits stores, the veil surrounding Ford’s spring/summer 2011 collection has been pulled down as the images have finally been released in US Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar.
It turns out that the rumours circulating were true. Ford’s most glamorous friends and acquaintances, spanning Hollywood, music, society, and high fashion, had all dropped everything to fly in and model for him. Beyoncé Knowles, Lauren Hutton, Liya Kebede, Rinko Kikuchi, Stella Tennant, Amber Valletta, Natalia Vodianova, Karen Elson, Karlie Kloss, Abbey Lee Kershaw and Julianne Moore, amongst others, showcased a collection which reminded onlookers of Ford’s best collections for Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.
“There’s a continuity from what I was doing at YSL at the end; that’s the customer,” Ford told US Vogue. “It’s about individuality. Real clothes, real women. For a fashionable woman aged 25 to 75. That’s why I literally put many of my own muses in the show. I hear them say, ‘God, I can’t find that anywhere!’ ”
The full interview with Tom Ford appears in the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK, out December 6.
As a universal truth, we don’t like change. As much as we strive towards spontaneity, we’re creatures of habit and the smallest tweak can cause out and out commotion and backlash. Take, for example, the negative reactions brought on by recent announcements of Tropicana’s tweaked logo, the formula change of New Coke and the changed Gap logo.
As customers and consumers we’re marketed to believe that we own a brand; it’s a lifestyle, it’s a heritage and we make the changes. So when Gap released the redesigned logo on its website on 4 Oct and decided to change their iconic blue-square logo, which has been emblazoned on shirts, jeans and bags for more than two decades, customers took to social-media sites to express their displeasure.
“Why mess with a classic?” wrote one Facebooker. “‘It looks like clipart”, wrote another. “The original Gap logo is classic and iconic,” said Eric Mai, a 24-year-old Facebook user, “by changing it, you’ve completely destroyed what it took 20-plus years to build.” While over on Twitter, a debate ensued over whether it was a hoax or a viral publicity stunt. There’s so much cyber chatter about Gap’s new logo it even has its own Twitter page.
The consumer-focused site YourLogoMakesMeBarf.com is offering a $50 iTunes gift card to whoever can come up with the funniest caption to accompany the retailer’s new image. More than 150 comments have been left, suggestions including, “Gap’s new branding inspiration: PowerPoint ‘97,” “Gap: Failing to think outside the box since 1969” and “Helvetica: it was working for American Apparel.”
The company issued a statement on its Facebook page yesterday, saying they were “thrilled to see the passionate debates unfolding” and welcomed design suggestions, calling it a “crowd-sourcing project”.
However, Gap’s North American president Marka Hansen has defended the US casualwear chain’s controversial new logo and told Draper’s she wanted customers to “take notice” of the chain and “see what it stands for today”.
“If you’ve been watching Gap over the past year, our customers have seen how we’ve been evolving our brand identity,” she said. “Our brand and clothes are changing, so we want our logo to reflect that change.”
Every day I ready terrible, PR articles that proclaim rubbish like “Cheese Will Make You Live 20 Minutes Longer”, “Tree Hugging Made Me A Better Parent” and “Vodka Cured My Itchy Nose” or whatever is the latest pseudoscience miracle cure is. Today, Vogue Online made me less of a pessimist with a report I can really jump on board with.
Manolo Blahnik has proclaimed that his shoes have saved couples from marital trouble.
“The male reaction to heels is half normal and half perversion, but some men tell me I’ve saved their marriage,” he says. “The first thing men look at are a woman’s legs, and there is nothing more flattering than high heels.”
The footwear legend, whose shoes are worn by all from Sarah Jessica Parker to Naomi Campbell, admits that he has little interest in the world of celebrity.
“It’s not the vulgarity of it – vulgarity’s ok and bad taste is ok too, sometimes – although when all those football people buy your shoes…Really I’m not interested in all that.”
Who does Blahnik think has worn his designs best?
“Princess Diana was special. She wore my shoes with such grace and had a luminosity I’ve only seen matched by Julie Christie. Maybe Kate Moss has something of that too, now, because she’s funny as well as being beautiful, but really the whole celebrity phenomenon is only of importance because it makes you money.”
Madonna is facing a lawsuit over her new Material Girl collection sold exclusively through Macy’s
Executives at clothing manufacturer LA Triumph, Inc (I couldn’t find their website…) claim in a lawsuit that the company has been trading under the Material Girl banner since 1997, and insist Madonna’s range causes “deception” and “confusion in the marketplace”, according to papers obtained by TMZ.com.
LA Triumph bosses have asked a judge to ban Madonna from any further use of the trademark as well as demanding they receive all profits the line has garnered so far, reports the site.
Yeh, good luck with that. Obviously the name of Madonna’s youth-targeted label is inspired by her 1985 hit, “Material Girl”, outdating LA Triumph, Inc by twelve years. You can’t deny, it’s a nice bit of easy publicity for them though.
The UK edition of Cosmopolitan magazine has launched a special collectors’ edition of its September 2010 issue, featuring a 3D cover in conjunction with Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light.
With a print run of 50,000, television presenter Cat Deeley, the face of the hair brand, appears on the cover, which when tilted by the reader shows her “swishing” her hair from side to side, mirroring Pantene’s “Make a Swisssh” campaign.
The campaign is also supported within the magazine via a three-page Pantene Pro-V Aqua Light promotion and a Confidence Confessions feature from Cat Deeley. Also appearing online at Cosmopolitan.co.uk, visitors will be redirected to Pantene’s www.make-a-swish.com. Here they can upload their own best-captured “hair swish” to enter a monthly prize draw.
Justine Southall, publishing director at Cosmopolitan, said: “Cosmopolitan is focused on long-term innovation. As such, we’re always looking for fun and creative ways to engage our readers and work with clients. Our lenticular cover has enabled us to do this perfectly by bringing Pantene’s campaign to life and providing real standout on the newsstand.”
Consumer events will also be launching at Boots stores around the UK in September. The campaign activity will culminate with presence at the Clothes Show in Birmingham in December. The special edition issue is available exclusively in Tesco stores nationwide.