What Do You Do In Your Calvins? New Calvin Klein Ad Stirring ‘Adult Content’ Controversy

Another controversial Calvin Klein billboard in SoHo that was removed

A new Calvin Klein ad involving a model who is 22-years-old, but looks younger, has gone public and it’s awful and “disgusting,” say most who have seen it. The ad series also involves Kendall Jenner, and headlines are using words like “p*ssed at Calvin” and “porn.” With the continuing pressure to push the limits of fashion in order to sell it, it seems the limits of good taste and common decency have plowed off the edge of a cliff head first.

Back Story

For centuries, fashion designers have competed in an ever-growing, ever more competitive field to capture the eyes of beholders who will wear their stuff. Although, as Meryl Streep’s Devil Wears Prada character, Miranda, chastised us, it is not “stuff,” it is an item of clothing that is one of a gazillion possible shades of not blue, not lapis, but cerulean, that a designer showed in a collection, that got picked up by other designers, that “filtered down” through department stores, to the store where we picked it out. It is a blue that “represents millions of dollars and countless jobs” in the fashion industry.

Even if there is so little material involved that one person could have done it for under $2, and it looks like a soft core adult entertainment ad.

Calvin Klein has pushed the envelope for decades, causing a controversy back in the 80s with a then 15-year-old Brooke Shields posing seductively in her Calvin Klein jeans. The company has actually been investigated more than once, by the FBI and the Department of Justice, RFCP reported, due to claims of child pornography and complaints from parents and agencies such as the American Family Association.

In 1995, in its infamous “kiddie porn” campaign, CBS reported, the Department of Justice investigated Calvin Klein for complaints that some of the models used, who were posed suggestively, looked to be underage. Calvin Klein ended up shelving the campaign. Years later, one of the models who participated in that campaign was convicted of first degree sexual abuse of a 12-year-old in Kentucky.

Calvin Klein ads, billboards, and commercials have even been pulled and/or banned from the U.S. market due to their level of inappropriateness. Yet that has not stopped Calvin Klein, or the whole industry, from plowing forward in all fashion formats ranging anywhere from suggestive to perceived child exploitation or pedophile candy.

Sex Sells and Repels

That “sex sells” adage has flooded the fashion markets, book, television, and movie industries seemingly since the dawn of advertising time. Similar to the adage that says “if it bleeds, it leads” referring to the nightly news, it is sadly true and getting worse. But some people are tired of the blatancy of this type of advertising. There isn’t any mystery anymore; everything is naked.

What’s the point of a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue when there aren’t any swimsuits anymore? If there are, they are being held by a finger. One. Finger. While body parts are only somewhat covered with whatever tiny, flimsy item the photographer can come up with. Other companies have used suggestive advertising also, such as Abercrombie & Fitch, which is now known, The New Yorker said, as “one of the most successful—and most hated—brands in retail history.”

This recent “upskirt photo” campaign by Calvin Klein is not only disgusting, but it promotes a very real criminal problem that has grown in the last decade due to the existence of mobile recording devices, the Independent Journal Review reported. Upskirting is “the act of taking photos underneath a woman (or girl’s) skirt, without her knowledge or consent.”

It is such a problem in warmer months, when females wear dresses and skirts, that police actually issue alerts warning to be on the lookout for “voyeuristic photographing.” Upskirting can also net the perpetrator up to four years in prison and registration of “sex offender” status.

This ad campaign also comes at a time when the emotional temperature of the nation is running high over different genders using the same bathrooms, pedophiles having easy access to temptations just by looking at an ad, the ongoing discussion of females being objectified, and the growing awareness of sex trafficking of young girls.

Competition in an industry is to be expected, but maybe Calvin Klein and the others need to exercise more responsible ways of going about trying to market their merchandise besides an “I flash in #mycalvins.” caption, so buyers want to purchase, and don’t feel they need to beware.

[Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images]