American Apparel: Sex Sells?

American Apparel ads can perhaps be classified as borderline porn. Their ads usually feature models (often female college students in their early 20s, but occasionally we see middle-aged men in their 30s modeling too) who pose provocatively, while at the same time look amazingly comfortable in front of the camera, showing off their clothes (or the lack thereof) nonchalantly. Their ads can be seen as using the same approach as other playful brands that target youth and risk-taking hipsters such as Diesel, except that Diesel models usually wear more than one item of clothing, are always fully covered, and are at least humorous!


By posing in a sexually suggestive manner, AA models seem to be selling more than what they are wearing. But, don’t all models do that nowadays? Purchasing commodities is not just about purchasing things, you are also purchasing a way of life. And AA might be selling just that. With AA ads situated as borderline porn, are they taking sexuality in ads to a whole new level? I mean, is it necessary for you to be showing your private parts in an ad just to sell some plain ol’ tee shirts? Highly questionable.

While some of us may think this is just some harmless playful commercial gimmick, many of us find it repulsive and degrading. Indeed, sexuality is a topic that interests us all (admit it guys!), but there has to be a limit as to how much is too much. Of course AA is not the only company that’s using sexuality as a major marketing/selling point, but AA seems to have generated the most hatred, and that is no coincidence. Recently, AA has tried to tone down their ads a little bit by using illustrated models instead of real models, but the same degree of nudity remains, if not amplified. So, what’s the point of using illustrations if nothing’s changed? To me, this seems to be stemming from a cost related issue rather than an ethical concern.

On AA’s website, it says, “American Apparel is an industrial revolution”, which has some truth to it for sure. But when the sex doesn’t sell anymore, what’s next? Drugs and rock’n’roll? Dov Charney, you’re treading a fine line right there, and let’s not forget you have a sexual harassment case on your shoulders.

If you want to see more of AA’s ad, please click on the link below (NSFW!):


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