Jack Wills, a British clothing line aimed at the teenage set, has come under fire from the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority for sexualized images in its catalog. A complainant received a catalog from the brand on Feb. 7, and felt that it was "unsuitable for publication" aimed at teens, thanks to terms like "midnight MISCHIEF" peppered throughout the copy. The brand is not alone in its plight: In early April, Gucci ads were banned for featuring too-thin models, with Saint Laurent coming under similar fire last summer.
The Jack Wills catalog in question seems to depict teens on a weekend away with friends. In a series of very "Gossip Girl" images, young men and women lounge around in bed in various states of undress; some wear full sweats while others are in bras or boxers. According to Jack Wills, this shouldn't be a problem, as the catalog is aimed at the 18- to 24-set. The catalog in question was mailed to the parents, Jack Wills claims, not the teenagers in the house, and was delivered in discreet packaging. If you shopped at Abercrombie & Fitch in its late '90s/early '00s heyday, this likely sounds familiar, as the brand's sexy quarterly publications (which were geared towards college-aged readers) often arrived wrapped in plastic with an obscured cover.
No matter: The ASA ruled in favor of the concerned parent, finding that regardless of target audience, younger teens might either directly or indirectly find access to said images. (The ASA has apparently never heard of "the internet" where teens can find much racier photos.) Jack Wills did not agree with the claims, according to this strangely hilarious excerpt from the ASA ruling:
Jack Wills did not consider the claims "Pure and comfortable cottons, or flirty delicate laces; whatever your choice, you can be sure it's what's underneath that counts…" and "A favourite tee and your boxers, or a lounge short and bra; this is loungewear made for the morning after the night before" to be sexually suggestive or inappropriate because they accompanied images of the group of friends having fun together. Even if the claims were to be interpreted as a double entendre, they did not believe that it could be construed as overly sexual or encouraging underage sexual activity.
The ad may no longer appear in its current form, which shouldn't be a problem as it's from a winter catalog. This also isn't the first time the ASA has come after Jack Wills: In April 2011, the agency found images in the catalog too racy thanks to a topless couple kissing while being sprayed with water. The brand maintained then as they do now that whether online or in-store, people wishing to receive the catalog must confirm that they are over 18. Moving forward, Jack Wills says they will print "Please note: You need to be over 18 years old to sign up for Jack Wills' correspondence" on the opaque envelope containing the catalog.