Calvin Klein has made a big statement with a billboard featuring indie rapper Chika.
The 4000 square foot billboard has turned plenty of heads, considering Chika’s size as she sits in nothing but Calvin Klein sports underwear and bra, and that seems to be the point as Klein is a brand that has been facing a few hard years when it comes to marketing to the average consumer.
While past Calvin Klein ads have featured women thin enough to turn to the side and disappear, the clothing brand is now literally going to the opposite end of the spectrum to stand out after struggling to get noticed in the marketplace over the last few years.
Klein’s parent company PVH suffered a 7.4 percent loss in the stock market in May, and Klein closed the doors of its flagship Fifth Avenue location. The company also skipped the Met Gala this year, an event considered essential for many high-profile fashion brands.
“Letting those things go is actually quite savvy,” Tyler McCall, editor-in-chief of Fashionista.com, told The New York Post. “At first, there was a real sense of loss. Calvin was so legendary! But the brand pivoted quickly into what works: the underwear in extended sizing, the nostalgia for the ’90s, the push for diverse bodies in casting.”
While there’s nothing wrong with “diverse bodies,” the company seems to have the strategy of going so far with the body diversity that they turn heads as people furl their brows in confusion.
“She’s not plus-size, she’s SUPER SIZED,” Mark Dice tweeted in reaction to the Chika billboard. He was not alone in his bewilderment.
She’s not plus-size, she’s SUPER SIZED ? ? https://t.co/glilcqQMRP
— Mark Dice (@MarkDice) August 31, 2019
“Alright. Legitimate question. I know body positivity is a thing. You should be comfortable in your own skin and love your body, but when does “body positivity” go too far? For example, Calvin Klein just released a billboard with a model who is plus sized,” another Twitter user wrote in a threat that asked legitimate questions about how far body positivity should be pushed.
Alright. Legitimate question. I know body positivity is a thing. You should be comfortable in your own skin and love your body, but when does "body positivity" go too far? For example, Calvin Klein just released a billboard with a model who is plus sized.
— ◢Strahd's Thrall◤ (@LeonaLawliet) September 1, 2019
I don't mean to offend anyone and if I have please say something. I'll gladly remove these tweets. I'm just curious to see where people stand on this subject.
— ◢Strahd's Thrall◤ (@LeonaLawliet) September 1, 2019
“Calvin Klein is using plus-sized models to destroy its brand,” another Twitter user wrote in response to Klein’s new body diversity strategy.
Why is it there's loads of obese overweight girls being "plus sized models" but no fat lads in Calvin Klein boxers with belly out?
— Callum Lyon (@CallumLyon) August 3, 2017
The company doesn’t seem to mind the pushback as they see their openness as a way to stand out in an increasingly pressured and competitive marketplace.
Marie Gulin-Merle, the company’s chief marketing officer, told The Post: “We believe the most compelling and engaging campaigns are those that embrace not just diversity of race, body type, sexual orientation or gender identity, but also diversity of opinion and experience.”
The 22-year-old Chika is not the only plus-sized model being used by the company. Pop star Beth Ditto has also modeled for the company.
Still, plenty of people are rolling their eyes at the new campaigns from Klein.
“If someone were attempting to take over a society, this is exactly the type of thing they would do. They are laughing about it too! Useful idiots will say this is ‘brave,'” a Twitter user wrote in response to the billboard.
“Somehow glorifying a deadly illness obesity becomes a fashion trend. Sickness of our society is beyond cure,” added another.
Another responded by saying, “I like chubby girls, but to pretend that this grossly overweight model wearing underwear should be hailed as some kind of superstar in the quest for brand reinvention, is just stupid. It’s political correctness run amok and Calvin Klein jumped the shark.”
Check out more reactions below:
I like chubby girls, but to pretend that this grossly overweight model wearing underwear should be hailed as some kind of superstar in the quest for brand reinvention, is just stupid. It’s political correctness run amok and Calvin Klein jumped the shark.
— RockPrincess (@Rockprincess818) September 1, 2019
I’m cool with thick women modeling clothing and lingerie but she’s way beyond thick. She’s unhealthy and promoting this is unhealthy.
— Heather (@TooDamnManyPpl) September 1, 2019
I was demonized for smoking and told it was bad for my health. Why do obese get a pass?
— lemel KEEP AMERICA GREAT (@gslemel) August 31, 2019
The worst part of the ad is not the model or the ugly underwear. It’s that tired phrase “Speak my truth.” There is only objective truth. Personal experience is real, but there is no such thing as “my truth.” It’s a meaningless term.
— Boomer555 (@heidiandpona) August 31, 2019
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