The Dutch fashion retailer behind the recent advertising campaign that included two men kissing in front of fountain has lost over 12,000 followers on Instagram since posting the images.
“Not everyone needs to be gay,” “this is disgusting” and the simple message “unfollowing” were some of the comments left on SuitSupply’s account.
In one of the campaign's images, a man in a suit has his hand on the bare chest of a man in swimming trunks. Another featured a man lying down on a lounger with another man’s hand resting on his face.
SuitSupply’s founder Fokke de Jong told indy100:
The attraction between people is an important part of fashion advertising.
A campaign featuring the attraction between men was long overdue and particularly relevant for our brand.
The adverts first launched on 23 February - and it didn't take long for them to draw attention.
Among the first wave of people that saw the images, there were some upset opinions and a lot of raised eyebrows.
Mr de Jong said it wasn't a surprise that there was such a strong reaction and added that it is amazing what "one kiss can do".
It was something that we anticipated as it is a topic that many people feel personally and passionately about.
This is not the first time Suitsupply, which launched in Amsterdam in 2000, has faced backlash for its adverts. In 2016, the fashion retailer was criticised for its adverts of miniature men playing around on giant women's bodies, as if it were a playground.
Now that the adverts have been out for some time, a more positive response has surfaced with some commending the brand for drawing attention to the gay emancipation around the world. Mr De Jong said:
The fact that there is a debate about it makes it relevant. Our sales will not go up for the time being, if I see it so in the reactions.
We do not aim to and cannot control the reactions, however, the new followers and positive messages that have been prominent in our social media is a good indicator that this campaign has been well received and has impacted many people positively.
The news of the loss of over 12,000 followers then prompted a wave of support online with many users creating Instagram accounts just to follow Suitsupply. User joindomislife said:
This is the real world! Congratulations on gaining more open minded followers.
But other critics have hit out at Suitsupply accusing the retailer of commercialising the LGBT+ community.
Suitsupply have claimed the choice was more about inclusivity. Mr de Jong said:
The message of this campaign is love, attraction and passion. We are a fashion company and we sell clothes but it was not targeted to commercialize the gay community.
The brand's suits typically cost $400 to $1000 and there are over 100 branches around the world.
The images for this campaign, which is called Find your perfect fit, appeared in most branches except in Russia and the UAE, Dutch Newsreported.