"Isn't New York for everyone?" That's the central message behind DKNY's #WeAreNYC ad campaign, unveiled last week. But, unfortunately, the campaign doesn't do that particular quotation, or the city it references, justice.
As with the "real people" gimmick the label used for the Fall 2014 runway presentation, the #WeAreNYC print ads and accompanying video star a selection of NYC's most blessed residents. These are the pretty people, all in their '20s or early '30s, all with fairytale ideas about the Big Apple. The cast of 15 New Yorkers includes singer/songwriter Rita Ora, alongside models, artists, dancers, actors, and nightclub promoters. While the campaign is reasonably diverse ethnically, all of the bodies are slender and toned.
I'm not saying these people didn't work hard to get where they are in life, and many of the campaign's models tell stories of starting from obscurity. They deserve a place in DKNY's #WeAreNYC campaign. But so do many others who's life stories don't resemble the typical New York City dream.
While DKNY never claimed to be breaking the mold with #WeAreNYC, the lofty name implied that the brand might go above and beyond to cast the campaign with a wide variety of New Yorkers, not just the same models and artists we always see. New York is one of the most vibrant cities in the world, filled with people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and career paths. As a young fashion writer living in the city, I felt decently represented by DKNY's campaign. But as someone who grew up here, I know that these images — and the quippy little video that accompanies them — manage to miss the bigger picture.
DKNY is a fashion label that understands showcasing unglamorous lives won't exactly move product. But I was hoping for something different from #WeAreNYC, something that wouldn't alienate the thousands of New Yorkers who don't normally get selected to star in advertisements. NYC can be for everyone, but you wouldn't know it from DKNY's representation.