Can you tell the difference between fashion and porn?

Are they selling sex, a brand, or are those the same thing now?

Mar 2, 2020, 11:17 am*

IRL

 

Audra Schroeder

If you’ve glanced at an American Apparel ad in the last few years, you might be wondering exactly what they’re attempting to sell, especially since the models seem to be wearing very little in the way of actual apparel. The Terry Richardson-ization of fashion photography doesn’t seem quite that edgy anymore. Now it’s just troubling.

The Italian fashion website NSS Mag recently asked readers to distinguish between a fashion spread and pornography, as part of a compare-and-contrast game simply called "Fashion or Porn?" The site provides 40 cropped images, and you must decide what’s (sort of) SFW.

The cropped portions often only show a woman’s face, or a swath of bare skin, so the task isn’t easy. On my first scroll through the game, I only got eight right out of 40, and thought porn was fashion most of the time, mainly thanks to those American Apparel ads. Apparently I’m not alone.



In that same Nerve article, the author references a study on women’s response to sexual stimuli:

“Sexual economics theory predicts that women want sex to be seen as rare and special. We reasoned that this outlook would translate to women tolerating sexual images more when those images are linked to high worth as opposed to low worth. We manipulated whether an ad promoted an expensive or a cheap product using a sexually charged or a neutral scene. As predicted, women found sexual imagery distasteful when it was used to promote a cheap product, but this reaction to sexual imagery was mitigated if the product promoted was expensive. This pattern was not observed among men.”
 

Do women still want something left to the imagination? In a recent Forbes piece about the link between clothing and sex, Kim Winser says using explicit ads to get eyes on your brand isn't always good in the long run:

“In order for it to work as an effective sales tool, sex must be used in an elegant, eloquent way that reflects a customer’s aspirations. If it is used crudely as a mere way to court publicity, it may raise the profile of that brand, but it probably won’t have a direct impact on sales – certainly not a positive longer term way, anyway."

Take a scroll through the game and see how you score. You’ll likely come away wondering if they’re selling sex, a brand, or if those are the same thing now.

Photo via infomatique/Flickr

Share this article
*First Published: Dec 18, 2013, 2:18 pm