While the world has seemingly made great strides towards a more inclusive and diverse society, it’s always important to remember that there’s still a long way to go. For every progressive moment, there always seems to be some sort of contrarian backlash — particularly when the subject matter manages to offend men’s fragile masculinity.
Dutch menswear company SuitSupply is no stranger to controversial advertising campaigns. In the past, several of their ads have been pinpointed as sexist and misogynist. However, the company seems to be turning over a new leaf with their latest ad campaign.
The campaign in question features same-sex couples in suits, in various forms of embrace, which is an admirably progressive move for a standard suit company.
Founder and CEO Fokke De Jong believes that this campaign perfectly encapsulates the company’s beliefs. “The attraction between people is an important part of fashion advertising,” he said in a statement. “A campaign featuring the attraction between men was long overdue and particularly relevant for our brand.”
(The company also made it clear that it would not be displaying the ads in countries with complicated views on gay rights, such as Russia and the United Arab Emirates.)
Many of the brand’s more conservative followers were outraged by the ads, and felt that the company was pushing some sort of homosexual “agenda.”
“You just lost a customer, SuitSupply,” one follower commented. “May I ask you what (you) have in mind with this kind of marketing?? Surely it’s not money,” another added. One person even wrote that “True men are slowly starting to dissapear [sic].”
All in all, the campaign seems to have lost SuitSupply roughly 10,000 of the brand’s online followers, who were apparently too fragile to conceive of the fact that gay men might be wearing their suits.
Many people responded positively to the campaign, however. “You may have lost 10,000 Instagram followers … But I will be a new customer and visit your Philadelphia location soon. Great Job Guys,” one commenter wrote. “Thanks for supporting diversity and inclusion,” another added.
Writer Nick Carvell even wrote a piece for GQ about why the ad campaign is so important. “In many ways, a suit is perhaps the most traditionally masculine item a man can own,” Carvell states, “which is why it’s an item that has been messed with so much by people who want to overthrow the status quo, whether that be the women’s power suits of the 1980s or Jean-Michel Basquiat wearing his Armani suits to paint in as a middle finger to the art establishment.”
Somehow, I don’t think those 10,000 fussy followers are going to be missed.