The notion that “sex sells” is a crude oversimplification of the role sex appeal plays in marketing and advertising of modern businesses. Various elements of sex, or at the very least hints of sexuality, have been used in brand positioning for a range of industries for decades now. We’re no strangers to seductive ice-cream or fragrance commercials, and we’re familiar with alluring and intense, albeit professional photos of supermodels on magazine covers.
While we cannot become immune to the allure of such an approach, because we’re hardwired to find sex interesting and, pardon the pun, appealing, we have become accustomed to its presence in advertising. The world of fashion has been a unique example in this respect. Designers, models, and fashion icons in any sense have all worked together for more than just selling with the help of sex – so let’s delve a little deeper and see how fashion uses the concept of sex appeal today.
Now more than ever, the global movement for gender equality has made great strides towards building a society where women can freely express and enjoy their sexuality without fear. Yet, did you know that horrific practices such as genital mutilation and child marriage persist in various developing countries? Women everywhere are taking a stand for one another, defending their freedoms, including their sexuality.
The fashion industry celebrates beauty in its various forms, it contributes to creativity, and it’s slowly moving towards a world of greater equality. Sex appeal has transcended its primal role of pure appeal, and it has become a beacon for women to end shaming, celebrate their bodies, and bask in their sexuality. Clad in tasteful and unorthodox garments while doing so is an invitation not just to make a purchase but to live through empowerment and freedom.
Sex plays a vital role in the survival of any species, but for us as humans, it’s also an act of intimacy, and a source of pure physical pleasure and satisfaction. It remains a controversial topic among many societies, and perhaps it’s because sex is something we enjoy behind closed doors – making it all the more intriguing once it appears in an “out there” advertising context.
Fashion designers deliberately create garments that bring out the finest of our features, emphasize our curves, and showcase our own sexual appeal. Seeing an ad promoting sexuality through fashion allows us to safely envision ourselves as attractive – and consequently purchase items that allow us to enjoy our own sexuality.
Fashion in the service of sexuality
Over the years, fashion hasn’t just used sex appeal as a means to an end, as a way to empower and entice. Sex has, in turn, reshaped the fashion industry so that it now entails a wide array of playful and curious wearables that help us explore our sexuality. If you take a moment to browse an adult shop online, you’ll find that the fashion section of lingerie and costumes reflects one of our most fundamental human traits: curiosity.
Fashion doesn’t merely use sex as a tool. It has become one of the pioneering industries to empower our natural sexual desires by producing stylish, trendy clothes that enable us to enjoy these intimate moments and realize our wildest fantasies. The fashion industry recognizes that sex is nothing to be ashamed of or shunned, it’s a force to be reckoned with and a force to cherish and nurture within ourselves.
Grabbing attention with sex
Capturing your audience’s attention is more challenging than ever before, because it now requires brands to fight for the spotlight with significantly more competitors than in the previous years. Naturally, fashion brands today need to take bolder, more authentic advertising steps to achieve the same results, let alone to grow their presence.
As a result, sex is an effective, attention-grabbing approach that gets a fashion label noticed. When done with taste and creativity, an ad utilizing sex can be inviting, not shocking, and it can inspire a boost in brand visibility and awareness.
Diversity and inclusion
Another changing tide in the fashion industry is the need for greater diversity and inclusion, and that includes sex appeal-driven advertising. It’s no longer enough to normalize sex as an abstract, intimate notion, but it needs to be relatable for the end consumer. These principles now need to be deeply embedded into the brand identity, so diverse hiring principles and an inclusive mindset when selecting models lead to diverse cover and catwalk models.
Sex appeal in fashion is now shown through the lens of models of all shapes, sizes, and colors, all vibrant, beautiful, and inspiring people everywhere to love themselves and feel sexy and attractive in their own skin.
Human nature is a wondrous thing and appealing to our basic needs and preferences is what powerful advertising is all about. Using sex appeal in fashion advertising to draw attention, empower human sexuality, and inspire self-love requires a tasteful, balanced approach. Finally, it’s vital to remember that advertising today is no longer just about selling. It’s about establishing your brand’s reputation and inspiring long-term customer loyalty, so each brand should define their take on sex appeal based on their long-term goals and not merely brief impact.