The Social Response to Calvin Klein's Troublesome Beauty Standards

Social media has recently exploded with conversations revolving around women’s bodies, ranging from a viral NYC catcalling video to Kim Kardashian’s latest magazine cover. Although the buzz is focused on broad social issues, brands are not immune to organizations and individuals demanding more rights and respect for women. Some brands have been proactive and gotten involved in the conversation, as seen in social cause campaigns like #LikeAGirl, a commercial and hashtag duo created by Always. Other brands, like Victoria Secret, have remained wedded to their branding although it has been criticized for its promotion of unattainable beauty standards.
Between these two extremes, Calvin Klein launched their latest campaign, “Perfectly Fit”. Included in the campaign was model  Myla Dalbesio, who is a size 10 or what the fashion industry would label a “plus size”. Although Calvin Klein did not categorize Dalbesio as a plus-size model, the idea alone caused a Twitter uproar.

Over the past three weeks roughly 142,000 Tweets were written about Calvin Klein. In comparison, roughly 35,000 Tweets were written on November 11th and 12th alone, more than doubling the average number of Tweets Calvin Klein garners per day.
CK Volume  
Using tools like Topic Waves and Word Clouds, we see that the spike in social response was focused specifically on the new campaign, dwarfing other topics including beauty and fashion.
 CK Topic Waves and Word Cloud
The conversation made over 350 million potential impressions, in part due to Tweets written by international news sources, Tweeting to diverse networks of followers across the globe. Segment influencers, or individuals and brands who have become prominent in audience interest segments also contribute to the conversation.
 CK Influencers 
The influencers in segments relating to fashion and beauty are especially important in the Calvin Klein conversation. The conversation is made up of 66% women and those involved are 19 times more interested in New York Fashion Week, 7 times more interested in Vogue, and 4 times more interested in luxury goods than the general Twitter audience. With interests like these, participants are likely Calvin Klein’s target demographic, offering significant incentives to monitor the conversation.
CK Affinities
The backlash against categorizing Dalbesio as a plus-size model provides a powerful message for other brands who have developed marketing campaigns promoting diverse body types. Although Calvin Klein never used the term “plus-size”, fashion’s notorious demands sparked sharp criticism that was directed towards both the industry and Calvin Klein. Social media listening helps brands harness consumer opinions so they can design campaigns that align with social trends and make sure that their message is not lost in a larger controversy.
For more social insights into the fashion industry, here is a snapshot of some of the top UK Retail companies.


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