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Sex Is Back. Are Consumers Ready?

Business of Fashion

April 28th, 2021

By ALEXANDRA MONDALEK

Fashion brands think they know exactly what you’ve been craving this past year: Human touch. Or more specifically, a lover’s caress.

From Suit Supply’s “new normal” advertisements featuring men and women twisting tongues and interlocking fingers in various states of undress, to Jacquemus’s Spring 2021 “L’Amour” collection campaign, similarly featuring lip locks and a lack of clothing, to Diesel’s “When Together” campaign, featuring real couples straddling each other atop washing machines and in car backseats, fashion marketing has suddenly gotten sexy again.

If not quite a 180-degree turn, it’s at least a course correction after a stretch where many brands steered clear of high-octane sexiness in both marketing and their collections. But after a year-plus of life under lockdown, and with vaccination campaigns set to unleash a wave of “revenge shopping” geared toward parties, bar hopping and other previously verboten activity, brands are betting that tapping into customers’ base urges will lead to a sales bump.

“Having been in a year of restriction and safety and doing what we should and avoiding what we really want, there’s this moment of real relief — and here come these brands with advertising that sparks that spirit of freedom, of liberation,” said Ruth Bernstein, chief executive of creative firm Yard NYC, which counts brands like 7 For All Mankind and Athleta as clients.

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