Founded in 1989 by Canadian businessman Dov Charney, American Apparel has been a continual source of criticism and debate. The founder himself has been sued for sexual harassment and subsequently fired by his own company. However, in July this year the former CEO was back, but in the lesser role of consultant – at least until the investigation into allegations of misconduct against him are completed.
Besides Charney’s controversies, numerous campaigns over the last couple of years have made the headlines.
The most recent clothing campaign, Back To School, was labelled as “pornographic” for showing a school girl in a mini skirt leaning over to show her crotch and underwear – it was quickly banned by The Advertising Standards Authority for “sexualising schoolgirls”.
Earlier this year the brand caused a stir when an advertisement featured a topless model with the words “Made in Bangladesh” across her pixelated bare chest. They weren’t referring to the jeans she was wearing, but instead to the Bangladeshi merchandiser in order to highlight the company’s fair labour practices.
SinnamonSCouture: Check Out The Latest Banned American Apparel Ads Do you think… http://t.co/WsYAxl6bxJ #fashion
— SinnamonSCouture (@SinnamonCouture) April 11, 2013
UK ad watchdog bans American Apparel ads. http://t.co/J7Pw1Kji4G Were they right to ban this? pic.twitter.com/rRPbjIbzz1
— Love shops That’s it (@shopped) April 10, 2013
Would you like to see American Apparel change their advertising tactics? http://t.co/Mbb8qtSZqp
— handbag.com (@handbagcom) April 13, 2013
Last year the clothing label was also blasted for its “sexy” advertisements. Some of the most controversial included a photo of a store consultant posing in bed without pants and an ad featuring photos of women in sexual positions, described by the UK ASA as “vulnerable”, “gratuitous” and “voyeuristic”.
In 2012 American Apparel had an ad banned for “sexualising minors” – it featured a teen girl wearing nothing but white tights.
In pictures: American Apparel