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.

Written by Steve Hall    Comments (7)     Mar-17-05  
Advertising Jobs

Enjoy what you've read? Subscribe to Adrants Daily and receive the daily contents of this site each day along with free whitepapers.

ad:tech Conference Headlines


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 04:21 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 07:38 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 02:22 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 02:31 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

Post a comment