American Apparel Stirs Controversy with Topless Former Muslim Model
NEW YORK (MainStreet) American Apparel is titillating the fashion world again with a new ad featuring a topless young woman, with the carefully positioned words "Made in Bangladesh" splayed across her bosom. The 22-year old model was born in Bangladesh.
The ad identifies the woman as Max, a merchandiser for American Apparel who moved from the Bangladesh capitol of Dhaka to Marina Del Ray, Calif. at the age of four. Born to conservative Muslim parents, she "sustained her Islamic faith" until high school.
"She doesn't feel the need to identify herself as American or Bangladeshi and is not content to fit her life into anyone else's conventional narrative," the ad says. What little she is wearing was "manufactured by 23 skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare."
The campaign serves as a "Made in the USA" boost as well as another American Apparel slam against overseas clothing manufacturers -- particularly in Bangladesh -- which gained worldwide attention for unsafe working conditions with a garment factory collapse that killed more than 1,000 workers in April of 2013.
"A garment worker in Bangladesh earns an average of $600 a year," the website's About Us page states. "An experienced American Apparel garment worker can earn $30,000+ and receive bene���ts such as comprehensive health care."
American Apparel CEO Dov Charney proudly champions his provocative ad campaigns. "The majority of our creative content is conceived somewhere between the 2nd floor and the factory rooftop, and overseen by our founder and CEO, Dov Charney, who first introduced our un-airbrushed aesthetic more than a decade ago," the company's website says.
A recent ad featured a 62-year old model in lingerie, but most highlight young, scarcely clothed models. Last year, a series of ads were banned by the Advertising Standards Authority in the U.K. for using what the association termed "overtly sexual images" of women who appeared to be wearing no underwear, according the The Daily Mail.
"Although we considered it was reasonable for ads for hosiery to feature women in limited clothing, we considered the images and the model's poses gratuitous," the ASA said.
The Dhaka Tribune reported on the ad today, but did not publish the photo, saying, "The photo used in the advertisement does not comply with ethics and norms of Bangladesh; hence, we refrain from publishing it."
--Written by Hal M. Bundrick for MainStreet