NEW YORK • Playboy is returning to the bare essentials.
A year after the famed but struggling men's magazine stopped featuring photographs of naked women, it has apparently had a change of heart. From now, women will shed much of the scanty clothing that had been covering them up.
The next issue, which hits newsstands at the end of the month, will feature women who are topless and almost fully exposed (think strategically placed leaf, hand or leg).
Mr Cooper Hefner, a son of Playboy founder Hugh Hefner, signalled the change in a Twitter post on Monday.
"I'll be the first to admit that the way in which the magazine portrayed nudity was dated, but removing it entirely was a mistake," he said in a quotation superimposed over a photograph of himself. "Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn't a problem. Today we're taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are."
Playboy announced in October 2015 that it would stop publishing images of naked women, seeking to attract more advertisers and secure better placement on newsstands.
Pamela Anderson was the last nude cover model for the magazine in its January/February 2016 edition. For the past year, women in the magazine were not shown topless and there was no explicit nudity.
Mr Cooper Hefner, who returned to Playboy last year as its chief creative officer, had been openly critical of the magazine's decision to ban nudes.
In an interview last February with Business Insider, he said in no uncertain terms that he thought the choice did not make sense.
"When you have a company and the founder is responsible for kick-starting the sexual revolution and then you pluck out that aspect of the company's DNA by removing the nudity, it makes a lot of people, including me, sit and say, 'What the hell is the company doing?'" he said.
In a nod to the end of its experimentation, Playboy's new issue features a blaring headline on the cover, with a letter artfully placed over part of a topless model.
"Naked is normal," it reads.