I moved to the big, bad city of Toronto about a month ago, and if anything, it’s provided me with a lot to look at. I live in the gay village, fondly known as the gaybourhood, so I see a lot of really well-dressed men who don’t give a rat’s assless chaps that I think they look good… I’ve also seen a lot of assless chaps.
When I do leave the gaybourhood, it’s generally to go to work, and that takes place in the financial district where the suits are expensive and stress levels are high. Toronto has never been a city that made me think of style. I knew there were a lot of wealthy Torontonians with cash to blow on what Vogue tells them to, but Montreal or Vancouver always seemed to be far more sartorially-aware.
While I do see a lot of stylish people, Toronto reminds me on a pretty regular basis that money does not buy you taste or style. I see women with massive Coach bags that are basically turning them into walking advertisements; these kinds of branded bags are status symbols. But when you’re pairing your bag with sweats and sneakers and completely relying on said bag to achieve some sense of style, there’s a serious disconnect. That cool thousand bucks you put on your credit card could have been put to much better use.
Anyway, that rant has a point. In the same way that Coach reminds me that money does not equate to style, GUESS continues to remind me that just because a retailer wants to charge you 300 dollars for a micro mini, it doesn’t make it classy or stylish. GUESS is a brand that has always bothered me. Now, their price points aren’t quite as high as Coach’s, but they’re toting the same stuff that Dynamite shoves down the throats of 16-year-olds, with the big, main, in-your-face difference: it’s got that GUESS label slapped on it, in and out of sight.
And their ad campaigns are SEXY. Did you notice? Did you know that women with their boobs falling out of their bustiers and pouty lips and big hair are sexy? Also, did you know that Barack Obama is the first black American president and that peanut butter is made with peanuts? It’s pretty blatant, is what I’m getting at. See the picture below of a window ad from the GUESS in Manhattan:
Alright, here we have a typical image that GUESS uses to convince you that it’s time to purchase something that is going to Vastly Improve your life, and you’ve come to the right place.
Everyone is pretty aware that the world is steeped in phallic symbols. Everything from a hot dog to a skyscraper evokes male genitalia, and whether you write that off as misogyny or smart architecture, it’s all around you. However, I’ve never really thought binoculars were particularly penis-like… until GUESS made them that way. And, to top it all off, there are two cylindrical protrusions! Perfect. I guess whatever bird or whale or drowning child that lifeguard dude is neglecting must be pretty exciting to make her mouth hang open like that. Again, perfect.
There is a better image from GUESS' spring 2011 campaign that I can't seem to find. It's pretty similar to this one, except only her face is in the shot and he is holding the binoculars a lot closer... I'll find it eventually and put it up.
Anyway, it's just a little frustrating that advertisers feel the need to resort to such blatant sexuality to appeal to consumers. You don't have to make me understand that sex sells; I have the Internet, and I went to high school. But it's pretty clear that GUESS' words are speaking a lot louder than their actions, because I bet the majority of the population would rather have GUESS billboards on their walls than GUESS clothing on their backs. The ads are cheap, distasteful, and are clearly trying hard to make up for what the brand's apparel lacks.
Rant OVER :) It's been bothering me since I left New York in April, and the flame of discomfort was reignited when I arrived in Toronto.
Side note: Yes, there is a rather large gap between this post and the last, but it's summer now! Things will change! I'm visiting Montreal a lot!