Calvin Klein is no stranger to stirring up controversy. With their history of overtly sexual advertisements – mainly during the ’90s, the brand truly takes “sex sells” to heart when it comes to promoting their image. Given their recent surge in popularity, primarily among Millennial consumers, it seems like their controversial tactics may be working.

One of the keys to Calvin Klein’s success is directing their advertising efforts towards Millennial consumers through collaborations with pop culture icons such as Kendall Jenner, Justin Bieber, and Nick Jonas. However, the brand is currently under fire for their newest ads, that many argue are overly explicit and provocative.

Calvin Klein 2In one photo, 23-year-old Danish actress Klara Kristin is seated on a couch, legs open, and the copy reads, “I seduce in #mycalvins.” Probably the most controversial of the campaign is the up-skirt shot of Kristin, accompanied by the copy that reads, “I flash in #mycalvins.” Outraged by these racy advertisements, people are turning to social media to express their concerns: do the ads promote and perpetuate misogyny, peeping toms, pornography, sexual harassment and rape culture? Many would agree that they do.

However, some Millennial consumers argue that the ads express a unique empowerment through the first person point of view. The line, “I ___ in #mycalvins,” conveys a sense of autonomy that gives the subject a voice and the power of decision. Kristin actually defended the photo in an Instagram post with the caption, “I love this photo @harleyweir took of me… all this discussion about it makes me think about how alienated and scared some people are to the female human body. Be and love yourself and your sexuality #girlpower.” Kendall Jenner has also voiced her opinion on the campaign. In behind-the-scenes footage that Calvin Klein posted on their Instagram, Jenner answers how she would define a strong woman: “I think a strong woman is independent, don’t need no man, can like walk into a room by herself and not be bothered and can go anywhere by herself and not need a million people around her–I think that’s a really strong woman.”

Calvin Klein 3Amidst the heated debate, people cannot seem to agree on whether these ads are positive or negative. However, I believe that they’re neither one nor the other, but instead more complex in nature. On one hand, they can certainly serve as statements of empowerment and bodily ownership. Calvin Klein may be trying to make the statement that society should not be afraid to openly express sexuality. However, we cannot disregard in our analysis the historical objectification and hypersexualization of women in the media and its effect on society today. There’s the running critique that some women take their objectification upon themselves and mistake it for empowerment. I agree with this opinion to some extent, but I think the key here is balance. Yes, women can certainly feel powerful and confident by expressing their sexuality and celebrating their bodies. However, we should also feel empowered by the many other facets of our identities, because we are more than just sexual beings.

“Normal” isn’t part of the YMC team’s vernacular. As a matter of fact, “normal” is the last word we’d use to describe both ourselves & our network of collegiate influencers, which is why we’re not all that surprised that the “Dress Normal” campaign Gap launched this Fall hasn’t been a sartorial sensation – and that’s putting it nicely.


Gap ad for Millennial fashion


In August, Gap released photos of celebrities – like Hollywood powerhouse Angelica Houston and Girls favorite Zosia Mamet – layered in basic, black staples and unassuming outwear. Each snapshot was emblazoned with the brand’s iconic square logo and the head-scratching catchphrase, “Dress Normal.” Other images encourage shoppers to wear “simple clothes for you to complicate,” and opt to “let your actions speak louder than your clothes.”


Gap ad that doesn't focus on Millennial fashion


The truth is, if given the choice between complicated clothes and a complicated life, we’d wear mixed prints and 17 necklaces any day of the week. As millennials, we’d rather our clothes reflect our actions as opposed to muting them.

We’re the 23-year-old, ambitious, and painfully unique women of YMC. We’re here to rise to the occasion and dress for it. Below, learn how the way we dress enhances our dreams, our agenda, and our determination.


"Dress for the weekend" Millennial fashion ad from YMC

YMC "Dress seasonally" ad for Millennial fashion

YMC "Dress Festive" ad for Millennial fashion

"Dress for Adventure" YMC ad for Millennial fashion

"Dress spirited" ad for Millennial fashion by YMC

This week, Nine West shared a rather interesting/warped/mid-century parallel between women and footwear. The brand believes that the ladies of 2014 require shoes that fit only one of two occasions – husband hunting (because, let’s face it, every hunk loves a chunky kitten heel) or early parenting (yeah, let’s try to balance mommy-hood on a 4-inch spike stiletto).

Nine West "Starter Husband Hunting" ad is a marketing fail

Nine West fails to realize that today’s Millennial gal is racing against the clock – and not just the biological one. We’re also on-the-prowl for a 4.0, prized internships, a dream job, and success – no husband required.


Tweet to Nine West showing their ads failed to inspire young women


So, Nine West, enjoy a portal into the real footwear needs of millennial women. Oh, and rest assured, the shoes we need are already in our closets – and we found them on sale.


improved "Welcome to the Real World" Nine West ad targeting Millennial women

improved Nine West "Interview Style 101" ad targeting Millennial women

improved Nine West "Life is Beautiful" ad targeting Millennial women

improved Nine West "Stiletto Race Champion" ad targeting Millennial women

improved Nine West "Making the World Your Playground" ad targeting Millennial women