Over the past few years a debate has been raging through the fashion world; are our children being subjected to risque fashion? The debate came to a head this year with the release of Victoria’s Secret campaign ‘Bright Young Things’ which is aimed at the teenage market. This may have taken the argument to the brink, but it was only last year that Tesco and Primark had issues with swimwear for children that wasn’t much different from the adult versions.
So, should we be censoring what our children are wearing or letting them express themselves through fashion as we do?
Firstly, we need to question whether Victoria’s Secret advertising campaign should be aimed at the young at all, when it is a very similar company to Ann Summers lingerie that is on the more sexual side rather than the practical everyday. As an adult, we are safe to make the decision to shop for underwear/swimwear of our choice, however unconventional in nature – the only issue with the ‘Bright Young Things’ campaign is that it is aimed at tweens and teens. Whilst some have not had an issue with the campaign, many parents and adults alike have stopped shopping with the brand on principal.
One woman wrote to the store stating “You are selling out a generation of young women to make a buck with your “Bright Young Things” line. It is irresponsible and disgusting to market that level of sexually suggestive items to girls. As an adult, I will no longer be shopping in your store.” (www.dailymail.com)
The advert itself, both in print and film, depicts teenage girls with a Spring Break feel, running, dancing and generally having fun in the tiniest of bikinis. But this is not a new phenomenon – last year American Apparel were contacted by the ASA (Advertising Standards Agency) due to an ad they released that caused the same backlash. They rebuked their advert, but the Victoria’s Secrets advert has not been a cause for concern to the ASA and is still being widely used today.
A spokesperson for the brand had this to say after the backlash from worried parents and adults alike; “In response to questions we recently received, Victoria’s Secret PINK is a brand for college-aged women,’ it read. ‘Despite recent rumors, we have no plans to introduce a collection for younger women.” (www.dailymail.com)
All in all, how much advertising plays a part in a parent’s decision over what their child should wear is difficult to deduce. If a parent doesn’t want to see their children wearing such items there are many stores out there that offer clothing that is much more age appropriate. Much like an adult would shop online for the Ann Summers Littlewoods Ireland range, a child would turn to the childrens ranges – it is just that simple.
The big questions in fashion advertising, should not just look at the sexualisation of childrens’ fashion, but also at the unhealthy body image that is much more likely to be displayed. It is also important to remember that many high street stores are changing the face of fashion advertising. This was displayed recently in H&M’s Jennie Runk campaign. As always fashion will not move forward until these questions have been given a definitive answer.