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5 Worst American Apparel Advertisements

Last week I wrote about how Paula Schneider, the new CEO of American Apparel is shaking things up, shutting the previously open legs of campaign models and giving American Apparel an all new ‘Wholesome’ image.

Lets be frank. Previous American Apparel campaigns have looked like they’re been lifted from the ‘Amateur’ pages of Porn Hub. They’ve had a touch of the Terry Richardson’s about them. American Apparel’s campaigns really did go too far, being repeatedly banned both here, in the UK and in the USA. However, it’s surprising all these ‘Saucy’ and ‘Smutty’ ads were allowed to be produced, let alone be forced upon us consumers, who were only too quickly trying to avert our eyes. 

Schneider’s attempt to ‘Uphold an edgy American vibe without people taking their clothes off.’ Can’t come quick enough. Fashion lifestyle and campaign images within the industry have been criticized mainly due to their lack of fashion content (Some don’t feature any product at all.) Such ads are promoting a lifestyle more than a product or brand. A lifestyle, that in American Apparel’s case sees women wearing jeans with their tits out: Who goes out like that anyway?
So, with American Apparel now safely in the hands of Schneider, here I look back on 5 of what I consider, to be the worst American Apparel ads.

Made In Bangladesh

First and foremost, this is AMERICAN Apparel, a company who pride themselves on making things in America. This advert is confusing and makes customers question where clothes are really coming from. This ad is tasteless and offensive. 

Poor timing of the advert too. This was released during the height of the ‘Exploiting female American Apparel retail workers.’ Internet claims.  The woman pictured works in the merchandising team of American Apparel. It just shows how American Apparel gladly exploited their colleague, here showing they value her more with her clothes off. Not very professional. Rather degrading. Don’t even start me on the whole ‘Exploited women in Bangladesh’ topic.

Micro Mesh

Even back in 2006 American Apparel were, as one twitter user words it ‘Pissing people off!’ Sexualizing women. Not even the best photographer could argue this is ‘All about the angle’

Pubic Hair Window Displays

Who could possibly forget the whole pubic hair on public display this time last year. It’s a debatable subject amongst feminists but feminist American Apparel are not. This was a publicity stunt of hair raising (Sorry) proportions. It made the press world over and continued to ‘Piss People Off.

‘She Loves Her Socks’
If this wasn’t Terry Richardson / Dirty Harry inspired, I don’t know where they took their inspiration from (Shudder,) Never, has any brand sexualized socks to such an extreme extent. Completely inappropriate for their teenage demographic. I’ll never look at knee high sports socks in the same way again.

Back To School Skirts
American Apparels reputation was already in tatters when they released their ‘Back to school’ 2014 campaign. It’s a teenagers’ parents’ worse nightmare: splashed against billboards and social media, it was promptly banned. Sexualizing women is one thing, sexualizing schoolgirls is quite another.

Like I said in my previous post: ‘Getting American Apparel’s visual image and branding back on track won’t be the hard part. Convincing the world that American Apparel will not steal your daughters’ virtue will be the hard part. No one will forget those crotch shots too easily.’

I hope in 10 years time, we look back on these horrific campaigns as a serious ‘Blip’ and in 2025 only know American Apparel as an edgy, wholesome, American brand.

Here’s hoping.

Image References
Image One: Made In Bangladesh, Google search
Image Two: Micro Mesh, American Apparel Archive, 2006
Image Three: Pubic Hair, The English Group, 2014
Image Four: Socks, IDSGN
Image Five: Mini Skirts, The Independent 2014

Fashion Post by Chloe Tomalin

1 comment

  1. I'm sorry, you just made me spit out my cereal in laughter.

    American Apparel makes overpriced basics. Why do you think people buy them? More importantly, why do you think people talk about the company? Do you think people talking about a brand isn't important?

    Sex and commerce isn't anything new- in fact, what Am. App. was doing isn't anything different than what Calvin Klein were doing in the 80's. You've got to understand the market to realize that youth like edge and sex is edge.

    But, if we're really being cerebral and adults about this then isn't it more honest to say neither Calvin Klein nor AA were showing 'sex'? In fact, aren't we just seeing a lot of skin and innuendo?

    Remember what it was like to be 17, or 21? Did sexual innuendo and the human form make you 'avert your eyes' back then?

    I think Paula Schneider has gutted the company of it's soul and made it 'so-so'. It's almost indistinguishable from the Gap/BR/Abercrombie/J. Crew/H&M mall ilk and offers no compelling reason to notice it as a brand. I'd be amazed if it survived another ten years but I wouldn't be amazed if she made a fat pay check from the deal.