Millennial’s are normalizing Playboy Bunny apparel


Photo Credit: Photo by Christia Assa used with permission

Wearing Playboy apparel has become a norm to teens, though it is really targeted towards 18-25 year olds.

By: Alexa Leviten, Managing Editor & Public Relations

More recently than ever, teens have been walking around representing the Playboy logo on their clothing. Do these individuals know the background of Playboy and what it stood for?

Is the opposition of wearing Playboy apparel an over-analyzation to the current brand or has it just been normalized with a lack of care for the truth?

Who was Hugh Hefner?

A man in his mid 20’s released the first edition of his Playboy magazine, featuring Marilyn Monroe in a nude calendar shoot; it sold over 50,000 copies, though he never got approval by Monroe to use her photos. Hugh Hefner, claimed to “love women,” but in a way that was sexual and degrading. He loved to look at women who fit the ideal model, to use women as objects that made money, and to talk about women with other men who “love women.” But, did he actually love women for who they were or was it about what they could be used for?

Hefner wasn’t heartless though, despite him overusing his power against women, he donated money to campaigns and charities he supported. Also supporting the legalization of same-sex marriages, he stated that the fight for gay marriage was “a fight for all our rights. Without it, we will turn back the sexual revolution and return to an earlier, puritanical time.”

Bunny Logo

This iconic design was not created by Heffner, but by Art Paul. It has not been changed since the second issue of Playboy. The vision of the logo had to have a “humorous sexual connotation” and something that was “frisky and playful.” In America, the rabbit is seen as a shy but vivacious animal. They found it to be a perfect description of what Hugh Heffner wanted to display in the magazines. The solid black color used in the logo and conveys an idea of class, professionalism, and luxury. Its effectiveness was conveyed without the need to use different colors.

This logo has inspired Halloween costumes of Playboy bunnies with a Hugh Heffner outfit, wearing a red robe, a captain’s hat, and a pipe in the mouth. 

Playboy Mansion & Magazine

Some Playboy bunnies that lived with Hefner in his mansion were treated poorly and even died young. Some Playmates that died young passed away from drug overdoses, homicide, suicide, or other causes. Gloria Steinem went undercover in 1963 to see what life was like as a Playboy bunny. Mostly treated as though they were disposable, she found the models were forced into painful, body-contorting costumes. Some of the bunnies even equated life in the Playboy Mansion to “being in prison.”

Bunny Apparel on the Rise

The Playboy Bunny apparel line sells t-shirts, jewelry, underwear, and more with the rabbit ears on it. This line of clothing seems geared towards teenage girls. The Washington Post reported,” Of the more than $300 million in sales of consumer items the company had last year (not including the magazine), about $200 million came from women, primarily for fashion items and accessories, according to a company spokeswoman.”

With celebrities like Jay-Z and J.Lo wearing the brand, more and more teens are flocking to it.

Tatiana Morales of CBS News reported Christie Hefner, Playboy CEO is “pleasantly surprised” to move into the teen market. “When asked what the Playboy bunny says about the girl who’s wearing it, Christie Hefner says, ‘I think it says she’s self confident. I think it says that she is defining her own image and that she has the confidence to wear the rabbit head.'”

Does this logo really exude confidence for girls or is this a marketing ploy to fill the pockets of Hefner? Are they targeting teens? According to the Washington Post, “At Spencer Gifts, the novelty chain, sales of Playboy merchandise are up 80 percent over last year.” However, Playboy argues the apparel isn’t meant for teens, but really 18-25 year olds.

Regardless of who their target market is, the message girls and women are getting from this brand is that sex sells and that is the wrong message.