Calvin Klein- “Controversy thy middle name”

Calvin’s trademark style is minimalist, with a timeless appeal. His other trademark is his advertising strategy, which is spare and provocative, and chock full of waifish, pubescent models and homoerotic suggestion. Calvin Klein is not shy about pushing the envelope when it comes to advertising. In 1980, he featured a 15-year-old Brooke Shields purring “Nothing comes between me and my Calvins.” He has mounted giant billboards in Times Square featuring chiseled male models wearing only stark white briefs. He has used the child-like Kate Moss to embody the essence of his Obsession perfume and most recently, has been at the forefront of fashion’s grunge trend, using stringy-haired, unwashed youth to hawk his cKbe and cKone fragrances. Klein has always been at the forefront of the youth trend in advertising, but in a 1995 campaign for Calvin Klein Jeans, his images of pubescent models in provocative poses caused major controversy and debate when they crossed the line between fashion and pornography. In one of these ads, the camera focused on the face of a young man, as an off camera male voice cajoled him into ripping off his shirt, saying “You got a real nice look. How old are you? Are you strong? You think you could rip that shirt off of you? That’s a real nice body. You work out? I can tell.” In another, a young girl is told that she’s pretty and not to be nervous, as she begins to unbutton her clothes.  Klein insisted that the campaign was not pornographic — that the ads were intended to “convey the idea that glamour is an inner quality that can be found in regular people in the most ordinary setting; it is not something exclusive to movie stars and models.” Consumer and child welfare advocates disagreed, finding the ads disturbing and exploitative.Under increasing pressure and scrutiny, Klein recalled the ads, but not before the ensuing controversy and publicity had turned his jeans into the “must-have” item of the season. Klein is not alone in his use of controversial images in advertising. After all, the whole point of advertising has always been to attract attention, and fashion advertising is notorious for its exploitative use of young men and women.

We are exhausted to count the number of evils in the above paragraph. To sum up following were the charges put up against CK:

  • Focusing on the genital area
  • Showing unnatural poses
  • Depicting children as sex objects
  • Implying that the children are willing to engage in sex
  • Suggestive settings
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