American Apparel Ad Campaigns Dance With Porn

With its underaged, porn-like amateur models, America Apparel makes Abercrombie and Fitch seem like a G rated Disney movie. Since its inception, the "sweatshop-free" apparel designer has used nubile young girls with pouting faces, come-hither looks and "do me" spread legs in its ads and catalogs.

In a lengthy article sent to us by Adrants reader, Sanj, in Now Toronto by Adria Vasil, the pros and cons of this racy approach are examined. From those who feel the company degrades women to those who feel the presence of porn is simply part of every day life, Vasil speaks with American Apparel Founder and photographer Dov Charney who responds to his detractors, saying, "They're old-thinking conservatives who are repeating false arguments or arguments that may have been true 30 years ago based on a context of social, cultural and political dynamics of another era. But right now, the women in the photographs and young adult women today I think celebrate the aesthetic of our advertising." American Apparel seems to ask a big question. Is there anything really wrong with celebrating sex and the sex appeal of women? Opinions on sex range from it being purely for procreation to it being an enjoyable recreational activity. Advertisers have danced across that spectrum since the first ad was invented and there seems to be no firm answer. Society seems to accept violence as entertainment but shys away from sex as a form of entertainment. We don't think the question will ever be answered but we do know that sex is more about life and violence is more about death. You choose.

by Steve Hall    Mar-17-05   Click to Comment   
  

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Comments



Comments

The first time I saw an American Apparel ad from a megazine , I was like " Ouch! what was this model doing?" I was so shocked and offended by the ad. I think the company should redo their ads cause they are really not suitable to look at. Are they selling clothing or sex? I don't want to see a person's personal part on my megazine even she covered it up with her hands. Do they applied the same ad concept on the male model? I can't imagine how bad it will be....

Posted by: Jillian Cheng on June 28, 2007 4:21 PM

I saw American Apparel's most recent advertisement on the back of a magazine and I actually shuddered in disgust. I felt like I was looking at child pornography. The girl featured looked to be about 12-14 years old and was outfitted in a very skimpy cutout bathing suit with pouty lips and come-hither eyes looking out. Unbelievable that this company is advertising and selling pictures like this, profiting from exploitation (or seemingly so) in a twisted fashion. I don't care that this company claims to be "sweat-shop free", it perpetrates a sexual visage on very young girls. Yes, sex is a very open topic in our society but surely it can be commonly agreed that the extremely underage look of American Apparel's models in sexual contexts is wrong in every degree.

Posted by: Marley Shayne on August 5, 2007 7:38 PM

There's the old and unsuccessful feminist rant of "porn degrades women" which is not true. Whatever American Apparel is portraying, is not degrading towards women. These women on the pictures of American apparel are not playing old chauvinistic stereotypes.
Feminism made us believe that women outspokenly sexual are degraded and not free. Well, think again and enter the XXI century.
Marge from the Simpson's advertises a much more chauvinistic morale being a woman with no social life outside of her family and who blindly accepts and promotes a role closer to the forties than an egalitarian contemporary role (and please don't star with "she freely accepts her destiny").
American Apparel hires porn actresses to appear in their campaigns and some papers said that that is morally wrong. Prove that porn is morally wrong you old men.

Posted by: Dani R on October 4, 2007 2:22 PM

Underage? all models are twenty something which is just the target of the campaign. All brands are using too perfect, healthy and happy (unreal) models which are ridiculous (GAP). The men and women in American apparel are much more closer to me and my friends than the typical smiling model taken from a Getty picture library.
It's curious but no women I know feels degraded by these advertising but they all agree that traditional advertising promotes unhealthy stereotypes of beauty.
Please, look at the GAP website and the American Apparel website and be honest, which models are more like an ordinary twenty something woman. The perfectly anorexic, tall and photoshoped GAP model in a ridiculous pose or the fluffy American Apparel model with the intimate pose?

Posted by: Dani R on October 4, 2007 2:31 PM

I love her body

Posted by: Erika Ekeren on December 7, 2007 12:40 PM

I love her body

Posted by: Erika Ekeren on December 7, 2007 12:40 PM

I love her body

Posted by: Erika Ekeren on December 7, 2007 12:40 PM

It is a widely known fact among those who actually spend time to research the topic that 100% of the models used in AA campaigns are employees of the company. The process for application for employment to the company includes submitting a resume and a statement of interest, along with 3 photos of yourself. The company only accepts applications from individuals over the age of 18. It is obvious from the application process that AA looks for young people who fit their style and also agree with the company's policies towards consumerism and political ethics. Look in any fashion-forward magazine and you will see racey ads. The idea of advertisers these days is to breakdown society's inability to have an open mind and break convential standards. In my opinion, it is a great marketing technique; think about it, by offending some viewers and making them talk about it, it is a form of grass-roots advertising. American Apparel does not use a logo on their t-shirts to make more people aware of their products...it's all word of mouth.

Also, take into consideration that the demographic the company is reaching out to is young, urban Americans. You will not find an American Apparel store in a suburban city; a great majority of their stores are located in metropolises or college towns, whose demographic is made up of the people the ads depict...real American young people, most likely Democratic, who have sex and agree with the company's policies and ethics.

I think that Dov Charney is a man who is actually making progress in the way people think. And his policies are great. Vertically Intergrated Manufacturing and fair wages for employees is amazing for our economy and our people. It is AMERICAN Apparel for young, free-thinking AMERICAN people.

Posted by: Jacob Flood on February 20, 2008 7:16 PM

Dani R -> In my opinion, none of the women in the American Apparel ads are "real" looking at all. In fact they look even more fake than GAP models because most of them are so ridiculously skinny and have the bodies of a sixteen year old. I don't know in what world you live in where grown women look like that, but it's obviously not this one.

Posted by: Laura G. on March 11, 2008 6:03 PM

First of all, to say everyone disturbed by the photography is an old thinking conservative is a very ignorant statement, and gives this guy something cheap to hide behind. I do see and apperciate the "realness" of the photographers style, but I do not appreciate the sleaziness of the style. I feel the "spread eagle shots really are unessessary. Why don't they have a one time ad featuring cumshots? Where does it stop?
Sex selling products is about as low to me as violence selling products. Death and life fall in the same hand to me.
Also, the sexiness only seems to pertain to the females, it sure isn't equal when they show some looking skinny hippie wearing some metrosexual v-neck shirts with their overused g-string headbands.
Another thing, If I were American Apparel, I'd be somewhat concerned about how nasty some of the models make their clothing look.
Aside from that, I'm just really sick of ads putting no focus on the clothing(which they should do, from what I see, I could spend $30.00 less on something identical in a thrift store) and more on the action in the image. It should be non commercialized photography if this continues the same road.
There's a great article in Adbusters about "hipsters" you guys should read kinda covering this kind of crap. Very entertaining as well.

Posted by: Jenn Susner on August 11, 2008 8:38 PM

First of all, to say everyone disturbed by the photography is an old thinking conservative is a very ignorant statement, and gives this guy something cheap to hide behind. I do see and apperciate the "realness" of the photographers style, but I do not appreciate the sleaziness of the style. I feel the "spread eagle shots really are unessessary. Why don't they have a one time ad featuring cumshots? Where does it stop?
Sex selling products is about as low to me as violence selling products. Death and life fall in the same hand to me.
Also, the sexiness only seems to pertain to the females, it sure isn't equal when they show some looking skinny hippie wearing some metrosexual v-neck shirts with their overused g-string headbands.
Another thing, If I were American Apparel, I'd be somewhat concerned about how nasty some of the models make their clothing look.
Aside from that, I'm just really sick of ads putting no focus on the clothing(which they should do, from what I see, I could spend $30.00 less on something identical in a thrift store) and more on the action in the image. It should be non commercialized photography if this continues the same road.
There's a great article in Adbusters about "hipsters" you guys should read kinda covering this kind of crap. Very entertaining as well.

Posted by: Jenn Susner on August 11, 2008 8:38 PM







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