The New Purity
In a surprise move, leading teen retailers announced last week that they're moving away from overly sexualized images in their stores and advertising.
Why are they taking sexy back, especially in an industry where "sex sells"? They want to distance themselves from the controversial images they've used in the past that have brought negative attention — and possibly sluggish sales.
Abercrombie & Fitch (A&F), for example, said it's ditching the shirtless beefcake models who greeted customers at its doors at store openings and events, according to a memo sent last Thursday to regional managers and district managers. (The shirtless-model image will continue, however, on A&F's Fierce cologne, the company said.)
By the end of July, sexualized imagery in in-store photos, gift cards and shopping bags will also be eliminated at A&F.
At the store level, new policies for hiring and dress code are also being put into place. A&F said it will no longer hire store employees based on body type or physical attractiveness or refer to them as “models,” a change from past practice. Instead, the company’s new policy says: "We hire nice, smart, optimistic people who care obsessively about our customers."
The changes were brought on by Christos Angelides, president of A&F, and Fran Horowitz, president of A&F's Hollister brand, both of whom joined the company last year.
Another teen brand, American Apparel, is also pulling back the sexy envelope.
While American Apparel's ad campaigns are famous for pushing the envelope — in terms of both political activism and scantily clad models — the brand's new CEO Paula Schneider and new Chairwoman Colleen Brown are saying they want to take a different strategy towards activism, in stark contrast to ousted founder Dov Charney.
Instead of plastering sex-driven messages on billboards and ads, Schneider told Bizwomen that American Apparel will launch a blog this summer to "enlighten" people. The blog will address social issues like bullying and LGTBQ rights.