Feel the Levi’s touch

London, August 1:

At first it looks like a standard fashion ad campaign. Beautiful young people wearing little but pairs of tight-fitting jeans gaze soulfully towards the camera or out to sea. They are all shot perfectly, with subtle shadows conspiring to emphasise their abs, pecs, cheekbones and eyes. And yet, in one or two, there is something about the eyes — some lack of focus, some curious colouring. And then, when you read the copy, it becomes clear; all the models are either blind or partially sighted. The ad is pitching Levi’s Red Tab as jeans you can feel rather than see. “Feel is what I look for,” Aaron, blind since the age of eight, says of his standard fit 506s. Kennysha, blind since birth, stands in her Eve standard fit jeans saying “I believe in love at first touch.” And for the 512 boot cut there is Erik, partially sighted since the age of 11. “I just have to imagine how good they look,” he pouts.

Of course, some might feel uncomfortable with catchlines like “I’ve never needed a mirror to know they fit,” fearing it exploits the blind and partially-sighted to sell denim. The response from the blind community, however, suggests the ads are welcome. “We applaud the new Levi’s ad for helping to fight prejudice by showing that blind people don’t necessarily conform to a stereotype,” says Paul McDonald, of the Royal National Institute of the Blind. “The advert also shows that it isn’t always obvious that someone is blind and that anyone can lose their sight at any age.” The ads are the idea of BBH creative director Rosie Arnold after she worked with someone partially-sighted. “We had some stimulating conversations about how, as sighted people, all we think about is how we look,” she explains, “Blind people have a different way of choosing clothes — through touch.”