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American Apparel: Sexist marketing made in downtown L.A.


Questions to Consider:

    • What is this company selling?
    • How is it selling it?
    • How does American Apparel want you to feel when you see their photos?
    • Why do people say “sex sells”? Is it true?
    • How are male and female American Apparel models shown differently?
    • What kind of messages do you think pictures of female American Apparel

models send to girls and women? What messages do they send to boys and men?

What We Think:

American Apparel’s pornographic marketing photos are not cutting-edge—they’re old-fashioned sexism dressed in deep v-neck t-shirts and flashy leggings. Their retro styles match their outdated way of showing women, and their photos would be much more appropriate in a hipster edition of Hustler than a clothing catalog. While American Apparel does use racially diverse models in their ads, they have simply replaced the “heroin-chic” body ideal with the “cocaine-chic” look. The vast majority of American Apparel’s marketing photos feature women in vulnerable, passive, and extremely sexual positions, often wearing little to no clothing. In fact, many of their ads were too inappropriate to even feature in our Gallery of Offenders! The comparatively few photos of men show them in more authoritative, autonomous poses that are usually not sexual. The male and female models shown here modeling the same t-shirt provide a typical, if tame, example of American Apparel’s sexism. This is not progressive marketing!

–Sabrina Sierra


Dov Charney, CEO
American Apparel Inc.
747 Warehouse St.
Los Angeles, CA 90021

(213) 488-0226

Feedback form on American Apparel’s web site

Learn how to write a great complaint letter here.