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Just when you thought American Apparel was turning a new leaf and straying from “overtly sexual” imagery, the retailer is once again facing criticism for a racy advertisement.
This week, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned one of American Apparel’s latest ads for “sexualizing a child.” It is the second time in six months that the brand has had one of its campaigns shut out for depicting young women in sexual poses. But anyone familiar with American Apparel’s controversial history knows this isn’t anything new for the company. In 2012, it had a total of eight ads banned in Britain for "gratuitous nudity" and the "sexualized nature of the pose.” Many believed this sex-sells tactic was over following the termination of founder Dov Charney, but clearly, an image shift is easier said then done.
After Paula Schneider was appointed as the brand’s CEO last year, she announced there would be big changes for American Apparel; it would focus less on the sexual nature of the brand and more so on its social justice advocacy.
"There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive," Schneider told Business of Fashion. "It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand."
Though American Apparel confirmed that the woman modeling the thong bodysuit is in fact 20 years old, ASA says the image is harmful due to her childlike look: "We considered the model had a youthful appearance and that some consumers are likely to regard her as being younger than 16 years of age," the ASA said in a statement.
Maybe this ban will propel the company to tone down the sex even more. If it truly wants to shed its controversial image, American Apparel needs to be a little bit more cautious.