Supermodel, entrepreneur and fashionista Elizabeth Hurley has been embroiled in a Twitter storm, as upset individuals have labelled her latest children’s swimwear line unsuitable for young girls.
Last week Hurley posted a photo of her latest collection on Twitter and some in the social media sphere took offence at the leopard print, skimpy designs.
Twitter users complained the designs “sexualised” kids and asked for the designer to “let them be children”.
Independent brand analyst Michel Hogan told SmartCompany bikinis for kids are “nothing new”, but in this day and age children’s designers should expect these reactions on social media.
“If I was a clothing designer, I wouldn’t go near children’s wear with a five foot pole. People go nuts over it online,” she says.
“But the thing is with social media, she probably couldn’t even buy this kind of publicity. Now everyone knows she has a children’s swimwear line.”
Hogan says it’s important to consider in these situations who the people are who are complaining.
“I would suggest the people who are up in arms probably aren’t her customers anyway. There’s probably nothing she can do to attract them, aside from pulling her clothes off the racks,” she says.
Hogan says although common practice says it’s best to respond to online criticism, sometimes a response only prolongs the issue.
“To a degree the idea of yesterday’s news is still true online. You have to question if the issue will be in the news the next day.”
Hurley’s new range of bikinis for kids includes bathers for under eights, such as the animal print ‘Mini Cha Cha Bikini’ and the ‘Collette Bikini’ for kids aged eight to 13.
Hogan says the nature of social media is it allows people to “rant”, but it’s short-lived.
“Very few people wake up in the morning and think about who they’re going to criticise online for the day, it’s usually in response to something a person or organisation has done,” she says.
“It’s a very short-lived problem and I don’t think there’s really anything Liz Hurley can do, or should do, unless she’s being accused of promoting child pornography, which she’s not.”
Hogan says sometimes people overreact to social media criticism.
“The issue of putting kids in bikinis is ongoing. Often from an organisation’s perspective they’re well-intentioned and then someone picks up on it and uses the megaphone of social media to express their displeasure,” she says.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean an organisation has to change… The furore could be for no reason.”
There have been a number of cases in the past few months of brands pulling designs in response to social media outrage.
Women’s fashion label ICE, Big W and Aldi were all forced to recall Australia Day clothing from sale earlier this year.