This week, Holly Wilkins looks at the furore around US retailer American Apparel’s recent adverts, and how those banned promo spots are being put to the public for their opinion on the matter.
I sit on the fence when it comes to my opinion about American Apparel. Yes it’s great that they don’t use sweat-shops to make their clothes, they campaign for immigration reform (we’ve all seen the “Legalize LA” tees) and their environmental commitment is pretty impressive. On the other hand, I totally disagree with their emphasis on vanity. Apparently job applicants are required to submit photographs – have you ever seen an unattractive employee in any of their shops?
Last week, the retailer came under scrutiny for the release of sexually provocative advertisements. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) particularly shot down two ads: one where a woman is shot on a bed wearing a turtleneck jumper with her bottom-half supposedly bare and her legs up in the air, the other is series of six photographs of a model’s legs in “overtly sexual” positions with her face out of sight.
It seems crazy how AA support immigration and gay rights because they believe in “freedom, expression and equality”, but they’ve gone so far in another direction with their advertising. Why lower their image when the clothes are good quality and sweat-shop free? Does baring skin help sell their garments?
Playing on the hype created from the ban, AA asked the public through social media to give their opinion. Leafing through reams of Facebook comments, there appear to be two extremes; people are either accusing them of promoting sex trafficking, and on the other side celebrating these people as feminists.
Thousands of questions pop into my head, and very quickly we’re forced to delve into the historical and social importance of gender. Is all this fuss because of the still strong underlying voice of feminism? And if it was men in these adverts would the reaction be the same?