In news that will surprise exactly zero people, clothing retailer American Apparel has entered the realm of controversy once again.
And, as per usual, this controversy is stemming from a sexualized ad featuring a half-naked female model. But, why stop there? you may ask, and apparently American Apparel did too because they decided to throw in a dash of race and two scoops of religion to really make you cringe.
In case you haven't spotted the whole thing in all its glory, here ya go:
The model in the advertisement is Maks, a 22-year-old American Apparel merchandiser born in Dhaka, who would later move to California at age four. In case you can’t see the image above, the words “Made in Bangladesh” are emblazoned across her naked breasts.
It wouldn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that this is (most likely) a direct shot at the Bangladeshi garment industry — where employees of garment factories are underpaid, have very few rights and are sometimes forced to work in dangerous conditions… and I get this. I applaud American Apparel for being different in this regard, with their garments manufactured by “skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare” (taken from small print in ad).
But that’s not why this ad is making people uncomfortable (which seems to me one of American Apparel’s strong suits, might I add).
If you get down to the small print at the bottom of the ad, you’ll see that American Apparel has gone out of its way to tell the consumer that Maks grew up in a Muslim household. Because you, the consumer, needed to know that a Muslim woman is baring her breasts so that you can buy American Apparel’s High Waisted Jeans.
Or something. And we all know this isn’t the first of their many advertisements to leave people shaking their heads.
In an even more confusion twist, the ad might actually make you think that the American Apparel clothing was made in Bangladesh — that perhaps AA is taking a leaf out of the books of some other labels like SoleRebels to ensure that workers receive fair wages and safe working conditions — but nope! Their clothes are still made in America. Only Maks is made in Bangladesh, which is cool because heritage and ancestry and family history but classless because SHE IS A PERSON NOT A TEE SHIRT.
And maybe she’s totally into it, I don’t know her deal, but do we really need to start bringing race and religion into the mix? Is it necessary? What do you think? Are you sick of the hyper-sexualized, bizarre and maybe even obscene and risqué advertisements and imagery American Apparel is slinging?
Personally, I think they’re officially into WTF territory with this latest of ad fails (as if they weren’t before).