Target CEO Defends Marketing of ‘Funny-Friendly’ Women’s Swimwear

Target’s CEO defended the company’s controversial “friendly” women’s swimwear line, insisting the wake-up product rollout would be a success.

The retail giant sparked backlash after launching a new line of apparel to celebrate Pride Month in June, which includes a tag advertising “tuck-friendly construction” and “extra crotch” coverage. The design is designed to help hide a person’s private parts.

Despite coming under heavy criticism for the release, which also includes items for babies and children, CEO Brian Cornell told Fortune’s upcoming Entrepreneurship podcast that he approved of the campaign.

“When we think about Target at Target, it’s really about helping all families, and that word ‘whole’ is really important,” he said.

“Most of America’s stores shop at Target, so we want to do the right thing to support families across the country.”

The “pony-friendly” swimsuit sells online for $40 in the adult section
The swimsuits, which appear in sections made for Pride Month in June, include a label advertising “tend-friendly construction” and “extra crotch” coverage. The design is designed to help hide a person’s private parts
CEO Brian Cornell defended the controversial marketing campaign

Cornell’s comments came as he came under pressure from the criticism the company has faced in the wake of its launch.

“I think these are just good business decisions, which is the right thing for the community, and which is the great thing for our brand,” Cornell said.

“The things we’ve done from a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DE&I) perspective, it’s adding value.

“It helps us drive sales, build greater engagement with both our teams and our guests, and those are the right things for our business today.”

His comments come as some Target stores in the South are reportedly being forced by the company to remove LGBTQ merchandise from display while customers revolt against the brand.

Pride’s line of products includes a variety of apparel and home goods, including an adult lime green romper with “Gay” written on the back, and a mug with a label that reads: “Gender Fluid”.

Criticism was also leveled against the company after it was thought that the “tuck-friendly” clothing was also for children, but a spokesperson for the company told the Associated Press that the swimwear is only available in adult sizes.

Target has been reached by for further comment.

The Pride collection also includes items for babies and children. Several pieces are decorated with the Pride Flag’s rainbow emblems and colors
Target also previously introduced a gender-neutral line for kids as part of its LGBT support.
Target marks Pride Month in June by creating sections in its stores for its lines of items
Supports Target’s Pride—celebrated throughout the month of June—every year since 2013. Pictured: A book on sale in the Target’s Pride section for kids and toddlers

Cornell insisted the release would fuel profits despite the backlash, saying, “I know the focus on diversity, inclusion, and equality has fueled much of our growth over the past nine years.”

Still, some critics said the brand “deserves the Bud Light treatment” — a reference to the beer giant’s devastating boycott after it partnered with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney.

Target’s campaign also comes amid criticism of Adidas for its decision to use biological males to design women’s swimwear.

The sportswear giant faced calls for a boycott after it used male models to advertise its women’s line for its Pride 2023 collection, leading to accusations that the marketing campaign was “erasing women.”

Both models, described as online, have hairy breasts, visible bulges, and their description says they are 6ft 2in and 34ft 27in waist. In addition, one of the biological models appeared in a sports bra.

The swimsuit is patterned with a pronounced crotch bulge and chest hair peeking through the top
Adidas’ Pride line also features T-shirts, shorts, and tracksuits that say “Love Wins” and are also worn by what appear to be male models.
Nike used social media star Mulvaney to promote her activewear in April and faced a similar backlash.

The recent push from some major brands to use wake-up marketing campaigns has prompted former NCAA swimmer Riley Gaines to tell that she “hopes athletes will do the right thing and come out and condemn it.”

As a swimmer, seeing these men and seeing these companies put these men in a position to advertise women’s clothing is not only heartbreaking or belittling, but it feels like betrayal.

It’s something we see over and over again, but we only see it one way. We only see men advertising women’s clothing, not the other way around.

Gaines, a spokesperson for the Independent Women’s Forum, has become a leading voice against the inclusion of transgender athletes in women’s sports, after finishing fifth against controversial transgender swimmer Leah Thomas at the NCAA Championships last year.

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