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Why Are Models Always Naked in Footwear Campaigns?

NSFW, sure, but also NSFRL (Not Safe for Real Life).

Photo: Stuart Weitzman

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What is up with nude models in shoe ads?

Earlier this week, Stuart Weitzman unveiled its spring 2017 campaign. Photographed by longtime company collaborator Mario Testino, the black-and-white images feature current brand face (and guest designer) Gigi Hadid completely naked — save for a pair of Stuart Weitzman’s satin “Clinger” boots (see above).

To be sure, this isn’t the first time a top model’s been photographed nude for a footwear campaign. It’s not even the first time a top model’s been photographed nude for a Stuart Weitzman footwear campaign. Behold, Gigi’s spring 2016 ad for the brand, co-starring Lily Aldridge and Joan Smalls — who, you guessed it, also appear unclothed:

Ménage à WHAAAA?
Photo: Stuart Weitzman

By contrast, this 2012 spot starring Natalia Vodianova feels downright demure:

“I had to fight SO HARD to get to keep my undies and floppy hat, you guys. You don’t even know.”
Photo: Stuart Weitzman

In news that’ll shock approximately zero people, Tom Ford is also a frequent offender:

“Okay guys, I brought trail mix, Kleenex, sunscreen OH CRAP I FORGOT MY CLOTHES!”
Photo: Tom Ford
Dancing cheek to cheek, indeed.
Photo: Tom Ford

Non-luxury labels are guilty of this too, though. Here’s Kate Upton enjoying a lazy Sunday morning wearing her Sam Edelman T-strap heels and nothing else, as one does:

“I woke up like this.”
Photo: Sam Edelman

And Dree Hemingway accessorizing with a wee farm animal for Agnona’s spring 2014 campaign:

Looks like poor Dree’s clothes are on the lam(b).
Photo: Agnona

Et tu, Versace?

This is mad, man.
Photo: Versace

While the below still was taken from a YSL beauty campaign and not an accessory-focused shoot, it features Cara Delevingne wearing the French fashion house’s shoes, therefore IT COUNTS.

That can’t be comfortable, Cara.
Photo: YSL

Here’s a shoot Kelly Brook did for Ralph Lauren:

Always the bridesmaid, never getting invited back to another wedding ever.
Photo: Ralph Lauren

And lest you think that this age-old marketing gimmick is limited to labels that primarily produce sexy heels, guess again. Even Reebok — Reebok! — has featured naked celebrities in its sneaker ads.

Is this how Ashley Madekwe shows up to SoulCycle?
Photo: Reebok
I really, really hope those sneakers have never been worn outdoors, Miranda.
Photo: Reebok

Why does this keep happening? Sex might sell, but who decided that the best way to sell shoes is to veer so far from reality that you don’t even really notice the shoes? These looks are as NSFRL (Not Safe for Real Life) as they are NSFW.

Sure, designer campaigns should be aspirational — and what’s more aspirational than spending the day lounging around the house in nothing but your most expensive heels? But they should also be realistic enough to reassure potential shoppers that, should they choose to drop four figures on said heels, they’ll be able to find uses for them beyond the bedroom, and ways to style them beyond accessorizing with a live lamb.