Swimwear giant Seafolly have claified who their official female brand ambassador is amid widespread criticism for allowing a non-binary activist to promote their brand.
British-born, New York-based model Joanna Halpin, 31, has been the official face of the celebrated swimwear brand’s latest campaign since early February.
The stunning model’s role was overshadowed this week when non-binary influencer Deni Todorovič, who uses they/them pronouns, claimed on social media that they were Seafolly’s ‘ambassador and brand partner’.
Seafolly also issued a statement on Friday, insisting that they are ‘supportive of all women’ and that Halpin is their official ambassador, not non-binary transgender activist Deni.
Halpin spoke out on Saturday in an interview with News Corp’s Stellar magazine, where she appeared to subtly reference the recent furore surrounding Deni’s association with Seafolly.
Seafolly named British-born supermodel Joanna Halpin (pictured), 31, as the face of their brand in February. It comes after the brand received widespread backlash for hiring a non-binary activist to promote their swimwear during WorldPride
Seafolly also issued a statement on Friday, insisting that they are ‘supportive of all women’ and that Halpin is their official ambassador, not non-binary transgender influencer Deni Todorovič (pictured)
‘Brands now work with people who are not necessarily a model, more a personality,’ she said.
‘It’s not just limited to models in the way it was in the ’90s, with traditionally beautiful women.’
After days of criticism, Seafolly Australia finally issued a statement on Friday regarding their latest campaign, saying they continue to support and uplift women.
Writer Alexandra Marshall was one of those who had spoken out against brand’s partnership with Todorovič, saying the swimwear brand was ‘mocking women’ and said she would boycott Seafolly.
‘Bye @seafolly. Never again. Been buying swimsuits from you for many years. Never again,’ she posted on Twitter.
However, Seafolly denied Todorovič was an ambassador for the brand, and said they were a ‘special guest’ to the brand’s World Pride event in Sydney.
Halpin stuns in a series of sizzling photos for Seafolly’s new summer campaign
‘Brands now work with people who are not necessarily a model, more a personality,’ the stunning model told Stellar magazine
‘We would like to address the recent coverage of Seafolly’s involvement with Sydney World Pride in which Deni Todorovič was invited as a special guest, and wore a custom, not-for-sale Seafolly design,’ the statement reads.
‘On Saturday 4th March, Deni attended our in-store Sydney World Pride event as out special guest. We chose to host this event to inspire everyone to feel seen, included, and confident to be themselves at the beach.
‘This season our Global Ambassador and Face of the Brand is Joanna Halpin, a trail-blazing model and photographer.
‘We are passionate about supporting and uplifting women, and to broadening our representation of women living the Australian beach lifestyle.’
The statement concludes: ‘We stand proud that our brand is inclusive and supportive of all women, including the LGBTQIA+ community and beyond.’
The British-born beauty shows off her sun-kissed physique in a patterned Seafolly bikini
Last week, Todorovič gushed about making ‘history’ in a lengthy Instagram post over the weekend.
‘This marks the first time iconic Aussie swim giants @seafollyaustralia have worked with a trans ambassador/brand partner,’ they said.
They have since edited their caption to read: ‘Today we made history. This marks the first time iconic Aussie swim giants @seafollyaustralia have worked with a Trans person.’
Seafolly’s move to work with Todorovič sparked calls for a boycott of the brand, which is known for its glamorous advertisements featuring some of the world’s most famous female models including Miranda Kerr, Gigi Hadid, and Shanina Shaik.
Since the launch of the advertising campaign – which features a bearded Todorovič posing in lime green Seafolly bikini bottoms and a matching cover-up – the activist has been relentlessly trolled.
Speaking exclusively with Daily Mail Australia this week, the non-binary model claims they warned Seafolly that the company would be bombarded with threats and abuse.
‘I told Seafolly “I will have people say it’s iconic. But I will also have people tell me to kill myself, to burn in hell, that I’m a groomer, and that my mum should be ashamed,”‘ Todorovič said.
‘I absolutely expected that, when I sat down with Seafolly, I prepped them for this,’ the socialite continued.
Speaking exclusively to Daily Mail Australia, Todorovič said he’d been flooded with hateful and abusive comments since working with Seafolly
Other trolls also targeted Deni on Instagram, with one saying: ‘Since when do women have penises in their bikini bottoms. This is beyond disgusting and Deni you are trying to eradicate biological women. Deplorable’
‘I told them, people will say “you’re trying to be woke, it’s tokenistic”. I told them to have a statement ready to go.
‘I’ve done it before with Bonds and David Jones. I feel very supportive and very prepared,’ they explained.
‘It all part and parcel of being a trans creator, and just being a trans person in Australia.’
Todorovič said the slurs directed at transgender people – such as ‘groomer’ and ‘paedo’ – echoed the attacks gay men faced in the past.
Australian models Jesinta Franklin and Lara Worthington have represented the brand before
Supermodel Gigi Hadid (pictured) is one of the best known former faces of Seafolly
Others targeted Todorovič on Instagram, with one saying: ‘Since when do women have penises in their bikini bottoms. This is beyond disgusting and Deni you are trying to eradicate biological women. Deplorable.’
Hitting back at the comment in a video on their story, Todorovič said that some women ‘do have penises’ because not all want – or can afford – genital surgery.
Speaking to Daily Mail Australia, Todorovič said the criticism still ‘deeply hurt’ despite its predictability.
‘The proud moment comes when I think about why campaigns like this are so necessary,’ they said.
‘We need queer people on TV, in parliament and in power. And not just queer people but trans people – in many parts of the world being a lesbian or gay is seen as okay, but being trans isn’t.’
Deni is also one of the national ambassadors for Bonds underwear
Author and artist Alexandra Marshall (pictured) said it felt like the fashion brand was ‘mocking women’
While celebrating the novel use of a transgender model in a swimwear campaign, Todorovič said seeing the outline of a penis beneath swimmers was hardly new.
‘I’m wearing bikini bottoms which are basically Speedos, which, last time I checked, people with penises wear Speedos.
‘So maybe you just need to investigate and dig a little deeper as to why me, in a Speedo essentially, feels like an attack on your gender identity, because that’s not what I’m trying to do.’
Todorovič’s role as a model for Seafolly was celebrated by a number of celebrities, including the brand’s former ambassador Jesinta Franklin.
Many shoppers also left positive comments on Seafolly’s official Instagram account to celebrate the campaign.
‘As some one who hasn’t shopped at Seafolly for years I’ll be back now! Love seeing brands be inclusive and that is where I want my money to go,’ one woman wrote.
‘So amazing to see this, Seafolly. I love to see brands pioneering the celebration of pride and inclusion,’ another added.
In 2021, Deni was criticised for turning Melbourne Fashion Week into a ‘pride parade’ by storming the runway with an LGBT flag and a T-shirt with ‘they/them’ on the front
Deni has become an increasingly formidable name in Australian fashion over the last few years
However, while some praised the brand for presenting a diverse campaign, many more said they would boycott the company.
‘This is a joke. We support diversity and individuals’ decisions, but we don’t want to see women’s clothing that we want to purchase on a male body…’ commented one.
‘There are other ways to support pride and individuals’ choices, but not this way. Sincerely, one of your long-time loyal customers.’
Another wrote: ‘As a woman, this is not what I want to look like in a bikini.
‘I won’t be buying this product. People need to get back to reality. Stop making our world into a circus.’
Due to the negative comments, Seafolly put out a statement condemning the ‘hateful language’.
‘We are here to celebrate the Australian beach lifestyle and inspire one another to feel confident at the beach,’ the brand said.
‘In this community, we do not tolerate abusive, offensive, hateful language, trolling, deliberate disruption of discussion, or spam. Please be respectful of each other’s differences and remember to always be kind.’
Many women agreed with Seafolly’s stance, with one writing: ‘I’m so embarrassed for the bigots in this comment section. Imagine writing awful things because a person wearing a swimsuit upsets you.’
On Friday, Seafolly Australia issued a statement in regards to their latest campaign, saying they continue to support and uplift women. The statement also noted that Todorovič was not the brand’s new ambassador, but rather a ‘special guest’ to their World Pride event in Sydney
Deni’s role at Seafolly was celebrated by a number of celebrities, including former brand ambassador Jesinta Franklin, but many more online said they would boycott the brand