One of the ads causing an uproar among Suitsupply's customers.

Suitsupply has never shied away from provocative advertising and its spring campaign is no exception.

The Netherlands-based tailored clothing retailer, which featured naked men in promotional materials when it launched its women’s division, Suitstudio, last year, has unveiled its latest iteration: a same-sex couple.

Its latest ads feature two men kissing and holding each other. The ads, which hit the company’s stores and social media channels on Wednesday, raised the ire of some customers, with some 12,000 followers abandoning the company’s social media accounts following the release of the ads, which the firm said intentionally “put the spotlight on gay love.” Suitsupply has 361,000 followers on Instagram.

In response to the backlash on Thursday, founder and chief executive officer Fokke de Jong, said: “Suitsupply has always celebrated relationships, in all its shapes and forms. While pride and love are celebrated in many parts of the world, it is generally left out of mainstream advertising. Our motivation was simple: to be inclusive of all our customers. A campaign featuring gay attraction and relationships was long overdue.”

De Jong said the loss of more than 12,000 followers was “something that we anticipated as it is a topic that many people feel personally and passionately about. We do not aim to and cannot control the reactions; the new followers and positive messages that have been prominent in our social media is a good indicator that this campaign has been well received and has impacted many people positively. It’s amazing what one kiss can do.”

He acknowledged that the ads were “polarizing,” but said they are also “creating a passionate dialogue between them.”

In response to those who suggested that Suitsupply is commercializing the gay community with this campaign, he said: “The campaign was conceptualized to highlight a community that is present and prominent. The message of this campaign is love, attraction and passion. We are a fashion company and we sell clothes, but it was not targeted to commercialize the gay community. It was to show the message of love and attraction stylized by Suitsupply.

Suitsupply operates more than 100 stores in 22 countries around the world.

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