Succès de Scandale: Homophobia, Racism and Abject Marketing in Fashion

Succès de Scandale, the manipulation of outcry over the deliberately shocking, has been used frequently to garner notoriety and fame in the past. Currently, fashion brands are notorious for dropping crypto-offensive items into their marketing and then backing off with a meagre apology when customers react with legitimate offence. Social media hashtags generate viral visibility, and the associated brand is amplified exponentially. Engaging in this dance between the edgy and the truly offensive becomes tactical for brands to appear ‘cool’, and to push back against notions of the ‘politically correct’. However, as consumers become increasingly inured to the abject, brands go to ever-greater lengths to generate publicity they hope will translate to higher sales. Shocking visual tropes become increasingly provocative to engage the online masses, moving into dangerously racially charged and homophobic territory at times. Offensive? Certainly. Of larger concern, though: are there deeper consequences to reckless dissemination of scandalous content?

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