Dear American Apparel. She is a woman. Not an object.

In news that will surprise absolutely nobody, American Apparel is courting controversy. Again.

With a raunchy advertisement featuring a barely dressed woman. Again.

What makes THIS situation a little different, is that there’s an ethnic and religious flavour to their tried-and-tested recipe for grabbing eyeballs.

Behold the ad in question:

The woman in the photo is 22-year-old Maks, an American Apparel merchandiser. She was born in Dhaka and moved to California when she was four years old. Emblazoned across her breasts are the words “Made in Bangladesh”.

This is, presumably, a jab at the Bangladeshi garment industry – where employees of factories are underpaid, have few rights, and are often forced to work in dangerous conditions.

American Apparel – in what actually is a point of difference in the fast-fashion market – does not use Bangladeshi factories to produce their clothes. As this ad outlines, garments are “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.”

But there’s a few things about the ad that are making people uncomfortable.

Is the social consciousness aspect of their ad tarnished by the fact that, well, they’re still using sex to sell their products?

Rubble from a building collapse in Bangladesh last year, which killed over 1000 people.

Because, you know, their socially aware slogan is painted across a pair of breasts.

Is it a bit gross that American Apparel is using religion to generate controversy?

In the small text at the bottom of the ad, American Apparel goes to great pains to make us aware of the fact that Maks grew up in a Muslim household. Because a Muslim woman baring her breasts is SCANDALOUS.


The ad reveals that Maks grew up in a very conservative household, and considered herself religious throughout her childhood. However, “upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions.”

This is relevant to your High Waist Jeans how, AA?

Is it a little bit misleading?

Honestly, what annoyed me most about the ad, was that when I saw the slogan “Made in Bangladesh”, I assumed that American Apparel had opened their own garment factory overseas – but one where they would still pay their workers decent wages, provide safe factory conditions, and give them rights.

I thought that the company was legitimately looking to facilitate change in Bangladesh – where many locals rely upon factory jobs to survive, despite the conditions of their employment.

But nope. Their clothes are still made in America. It’s only Maks that is “Made in Bangladesh”.

And by saying so, American Apparel are effectively reducing her to a piece of clothing, too. An object that was made in an ‘exotic’ country.

As if the fact that she was topless, didn’t objectify her enough.

Click through the gallery below for further examples of American Apparel’s controversial advertising. 

Do you think this ad is controversial? Or do you just think it’s a little confusing? And honestly, is anyone else getting American Apparel fatigue?