This Is the Only Dress You Need For the Holidays

Sadly, you can’t actually buy it. The high-tech mini was just a campaign for a 200-year-old beverage company.

By Susannah Cohen

The dress of the season is a variation on the classic little black dress.

Short — but not too short — with a subtle sparkle to the fabric, it has a bodycon cut paired with a demure neckline and long sleeves. More beguiling than revealing, it doesn’t exactly scream, “Touch me.”

Still, that’s exactly what’ll happen if you wear it. The unassuming dress can actually show where hands have touched it. Though you can’t see the marks with your naked eye, sensors embedded in its fabric record every graze or accidental bump the frock encounters while being worn.

To see just how many times it could happen in one night, three women in São Paulo, Brazil wore the so-called “Dress for Respect” on a night out. Using the magic of wifi, which recorded the sensors’ data, the women discovered they’d been touched, collectively, a total of 157 times over three hours and 47 minutes.

This number does not come as a surprise. According to research by the NGO Think Olga, 86-percent of women in Brazil said they’ve been groped in a nightclub. That’s a lot of unwanted attention — and it’s not like this is a problem confined only to one country.

You can see the experiment for yourself in a video by the ad agency Ogilvy which concocted the experiment as a campaign for the beverage brand Schweppes. Since launching earlier this summer, the marketing campaign has been creating a ton of buzz. It was awarded a bronze trophy for its positive social impact at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity in June. And it was all over the internet yet again at the beginning of December, sparking a flurry of think pieces just in time for holiday parties.

Are the findings a surprise? Not to any woman who has ever been to a nightclub.

Perhaps the only surprise is the client: Schweppes, a 235-year-old Swiss soda brand that doesn’t usually dabble in fashion or women’s causes. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the brand’s previous advertising, this is something of an about turn for them. Famous in the 1960s and 70s for its “Schhh… you know who” tagline, Schweppes later moved into more suggestive territory with its strange and sexy “What did you expect?” ads starring Uma Thurman and Penelope Cruz in the mid-2000s.

This year saw a repositioning in the brand’s marketing and another slogan tweak.  Changing from past to present tense, its tagline is now a more open-ended, “What do you expect?” It was unveiled in a commercial in April 2018 featuring a blonde actress wearing a gold mini that, but for its color, looked almost identical to the Dress for Respect dress.

Unsurprisingly, Schweppes’ recent move into full brand wokeness has caught many consumers off-guard. Is this yet another cynical attempt by a big brand to jump on the #MeToo bandwagon? Or is it a launchpad for genuine change? Either way, the Dress For Respect is a good reminder that it’s never OK to be a creep, regardless of whether you’re drinking a martini or a plain ol’ Schweppes ginger ale.


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