Full Frontal Chic

Designers are no longer bashful about advertising their wares on sexier channels. From ad campaigns onporn sites to runway live streams on Grindr, Trey Taylor explores how fashion is going all the way.

What’s better than sex? Shopping, some might argue. And the places consumers find themselves enticed by good design are starting to get a bit raunchy. Luxury fashion brands are hopping into bed with the adult entertainment industry, advertising on racy websites, and even featuring porn stars in their ad campaigns.

And it’s working. Since creating banner ads for its underwear collection to appear on the website Pornhub last January, Italian brand Diesel has seen a 31 per cent increase in traffic to its own site. The hook-up has been mutually beneficial for Pornhub, according to its vice-president Corey Price. He has noticed an increase in interest from high fashion brands since Diesel – reportedly the first mainstream label to advertise on a porn website – took the plunge. “Each day over 60 million people visit Pornhub.com. Brands are starting to recognize just how large and eclectic our audience is and want to tap into it,” says Price. “The potential visibility we provide is enticing enough for brands to reach out and inquire about working together.”

“Each day over 60 million people visit Pornhub.com. Brands are starting to recognize just how large and eclectic our audience is and want to tap into it.”

Fashion is also swiping right on dating apps like Tinder and Grindr. London-based label J.W.Anderson teamed up with gay social networking app Grindr to live stream its autumn/winter 2016 men’s wear fashion show in January. Initially, the partnership was met with derision. “We had a few suspicions about how the fashion industry would react,” admits Grindr’s vice-president of marketing Landis Smithers. “But what we were doing was a first so we expected opinions – good and bad.”

The negative opinions were soon drowned out by the sound
of thousands of users installing the app specifically to watch the show. With a global user base of 7 million, 40,000 tuned-in to the live stream. The show was viewed 150,000 times through Grindr’s online channels. The app has a wider lifestyle market in its crosshairs, and is already attract- ing advertisers such as Calvin Klein, Aldo and American Apparel.

British label Vivienne Westwood has taken another approach, recruiting artist and gay porn actor Colby Keller for its spring 2016 campaign. The brand is banking on Keller’s sex appeal – in some ads, he wears little more than a thong – and built-in fan base to entice potential consumers via the images shot by Juergen Teller.

The fashion industry has long toed the line with controversial ways to attract customer interest, but now it’s seemingly done with foreplay. “I think brands are trying to get edgier,” adds Price. “After all, sex does sell.”

Originally published in The Globe and Mail

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