Should American Apparel bring its sexy image marketing back?
American Apparel, long criticized for ads featuring women in provocative poses, is being relaunched by a new owner, Gildan Apparel, and many are surprised that its comeback campaign is still somewhat risqué.
While the highly suggestive, often topless poses of prepubescent models that American Apparel had been accused of using in the past are gone, many scantily dressed models and the occasional “crotch shot or the come-hither look” remains, according to Retail Dive. The return stands out even more given the “Me Too” movement and the current scrutiny over sexual assault and harassment in society.
“We don’t believe in covering up,” Sabina Weber, American Apparel’s head of brand marketing told Adweek. “Women feel so conflicted about being sexual right now, but we’re taking a position to still be sexy, unapologetically so, but from an empowered female perspective.”
The brand’s first all-female executive team claims to be making other changes:
- All those pictured in ads are well over 18-years-old. (The former management, led by founder Dov Charney, long asserted all its models were over 18.);
- Those featured in ads will be “real” people — not models or paid influencers — with a goal of showcasing a diversity of ethnicities and body types;
- Men are being depicted in the same poses as women and will be wearing similar amounts of apparel.
The “Back to Basics” campaign started running in the fall with billboards, bus shelters and other outdoor ads in major cities.
“The goal of the new campaign is to appeal to female sexuality from a position outside of the male gaze,” writes Tom Higgins for Promo Marketing. “While this is in stark contrast to the brand’s advertising under the supervision of Charney, it is important to realize that the goal of ‘Back to Basics’ is not to distort or conceal the past.”
- American Apparel’s Rebrand, Led by Female Execs, Aims to Be Sexy Without the Sexism – Adweek
- American Apparel has a new look created by women, but it’s still risqué — here’s why – Business Insider
- American Apparel reimagines marketing – Retail Dive
- American Apparel Rebrand Looks to Empower Women – Promo Magazine
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think of American Apparel’s toned-down yet “sexy, unapologetically so” marketing approach? Should American Apparel have abandoned the suggestive imagery that had defined its past marketing campaigns with its relaunch?