This morning, news broke that a woman in Orem, Utah, was offended by a series of T-shirts on display at her local PacSun. After protesting to an employee but being told only a corporate directive could change up the display windows, the mother bought every single tee in the store out of protest. They were all from the V/SUAL brand, a label that features the photography of Van Styles. We reached out to Van Styles to hear his thoughts on the fiasco.
When did you first hear about the mom, named Judy Cox, in Orem, Utah buying out a PacSun of all its Visual merchandise?
Yesterday morning via twitter. Someone had posted the link and “@“ me.
What was your first reaction?
"Is this for real?"
Do you think your tees violate Orem, Utah's city code that prohibits anyone from putting any “explicit sexual material” on public display?
I can’t say exactly since I have not sat down and read theOrem, Utah city code. But if Victoria’s Secret can share similar images then I think there is a loophole somewhere.
Do you think your shirts are pornographic, as Judy Cox in Utah is saying?
Pornography by definition is: printed or visual material containing the explicit description or display of sexual organs or activity, intended to stimulate erotic rather than aesthetic or emotional feelings. So no I don’t.
Any reaction to the mall manager in Orem who said “Some of the poses were provocative and were inappropriate for a store catering to young people.”
Once again this is someone’s opinion. One could say reality TV or tabloid magazines in the check out line at grocery stores are a lot worse for young people then my photos.
How would you describe your Visual brand, and the images that are featured on the tees and hoodies?
If you really look at the Visual brand you will see it celebrates the art of photography as a whole. While I may have images featuring models I have worked with I also feature landscape and street photography pictures as well. I believe whenPacSun first picked it up the best selling shirt from my brand was a photo I took of the L.A. skyline, not a model. The images I showcase for Visual are across the board in a variety of ways. I have even opened it to doing capsule projects with other photographers whose work I love such as Travis Jensen andTrashhand.
What does it mean to you that Gary Schoenfeld, the CEO of PacSun, had your back? He made a statement that read, "While customer feedback is important to us, we remain committed to the selection of brands and apparel available in our stores.”
It means a ton and I applaud Gary for his comment.
Do you have a message or any words for anyone who might be offended by Visual?
I don’t expect everyone to love my photography, but that is the beauty of freedom of choice and speech. And in a land built on these fundamentals I would imagine people would be more bothered by one person saying what is good for everyone else strictly based on her opinion and interpretation.