News this week was that footwear brand Aldo cut ties with controversial photographer, Terry Richardson. “[We] are not currently working with Terry Richardson and we have no plan to work with him in the future,” Aldo Group PR Director Wendie Godbout reportedly told BuzzFeed. This follows Richardson shooting the brand's Spring/Summer 2014 ad campaign. But, as we suspected, while Aldo follows Target and H&M's in distancing itself from the photographer, this is not the end of Richardson. In fact, ElevenParis, a self-proclaimed "Parisian prêt-à-porter brand, present on the international fashion scene since 2003", tapped Richardson to shoot its recently-debuted Fall/Winter 2014 ad campaign starring Kate Moss (a close friend of Richardson) and rapper Wiz Khalifa. Far from an unknown brand, ElevenParis stocks at 650 stores across France and in 800 stores in over 25 countries, as well as its own brick and mortar shops in France, Brussels and London, on its e-commerce site, and on sites like Shopbop, ASOS and others.
It seems that the negative media attention that Richardson continues to receive is not going to be the end of his career after all or at least not anytime soon; he currently boasts a client list that includes ElevenParis (obviously), Valentino, Harper's Bazaar, Santa Lolla (a Brazilian accessories brand for which Richardson shot its Fall/Winter 2014 campaign), Vogue Mexico (he shot editorials for its June 2014 issue), Vogue Paris (his work is in its May 2014 issue), and others. Additionally, he shot covers for Esquire UK (and Harper's Bazaar Japan (July 2014), Vogue Mexico and Harper's Bazaar Germany (June 2014), and Rolling Stone, Wonderland and Harper's Bazaar (May 2014). And these are just the most recent. His list of clients for the S/S 2014 campaigns is lengthy.
So, while some brands are, in fact, distancing themselves from Richardson, he continues to work. Is it terribly surprising? I'm not so sure. As The Daily Beast's Amanda Marcotte recently wrote: "Richardson is a slightly different story [than fellow perv Dov Charney], because when he isn’t being horrible, his photos and videos can often be witty, engrossing, sexy in a non-coercive way, and even beautiful." Thus, the talent argument, which is certainly noteworthy. In addition, I think that fact that Richardson continues to work is potential proof that consumers aren't actually boycotting brands and publications with which Richardson is associated in any significant volume.
In addressing why Harper's Bazaar keeps Richardson around despite the relatively consistent negative media fodder, I recently posited that at the end of the day, we are not currently living in the age of magazines, and having Richardson on staff provides Harper’s (among others) with a few noteworthy benefits (as ethically questionable and unsavory as continuing to employ him may be). Primarily, he produces shock value and sexually charged images, which sell. He also has a strong celebrity following (I mean, he has photographed virtually every major contemporary figure in film and music), and celebrities sell magazines. And yet another benefit: Terry Richardson, himself, garners attention that is distinct from and in addition to the attention paid to the photos he takes. His name, his persona, his edgy practices or the instances of sexual harassment (depending on which camp you belong to on the matter) are attention-grabbing. In this way, his work is arguably more in demand, despite the fact that a portion of the industry is very strongly opposed to him and his work. All of these add up to one important thing: Sales. Hearst is a business just like every other business, it wants to grow its revenue and its profits, and Richardson helps facilitate this.
It seems this is what those that continue to contract with Richardson are seeing, and likely is the reason he will continue to work despite everything that has been said/written about him (including two criminal complaints from 2005 that came to light relatively recently). Thoughts?