We have all paid homage to at least one American Apparel store at some point in our lives – from stocking up on scrunchies and tube socks for that last minute eighties party to being dragged in there by a friend -suddenly finding yourself in the provocative epicenter of bodysuits, basic tees and high-waist satin disco shorts. Porno chic? Consider it your rite of passage into the everyday closet of today’s modern twenty-something.
You’ve seen the ads and billboards depicting youthful “girl next door” types, along with porn stars (American Apparel is notorious for using adult film actresses in their campaigns) lounging in boyfriend undies, sprawled across a messy bed, looking as if they’ve been tumbling around in the sheets all day. Is it just me, or does Fiona Apple’s 1997 music video ‘Criminal’ remind you of an American Apparel ad? (Interestingly enough, American Apparel was founded one year later. Perhaps Fiona was onto something).
Despite the fact that we’re all quite familiar with the overt sexual nature that is associated with the American Apparel name, we still act shocked whenever a new campaign comes out. Back in September, the brand caught us off guard when they debuted their latest model in the spirit of Rosh Hashanah: a Hasidic Jew. We barely had any time to allow the shock-value to settle at the sight of Yoel Weisshaus posing for us in his Oxford long-sleeved button down shirt and welt-pocket pants, when we were suddenly greeted with the company’s latest campaign that has already caused jaws to drop (and triggered some to run for cover), leaving even the most loyal brand devotees to wonder: has American Apparel gone too far this time?
The brand’s newest line of unisex T-shirts depict images such as a woman’s vagina stained with menstrual blood, which was designed by Toronto-based artist Petra Collins (also a former American Apparel employee), who is known for ‘creating portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture.’ Another image is a photograph of a woman’s breasts under a wet shirt. Collins told MailOnline: “This image is stating that women are not a subordinate creature to just be entered. We are our own beings in control of our own sexuality. I find it interesting that images addressing sexuality and reproduction are hidden and often looked at as disgusting.”
While I’m fairly open-minded when it comes to art and creativity, I can’t say that I’m in any rush to go out and buy one of these shirts. I definitely wouldn’t advise wearing these on a first date or if you plan to be around children. Seeing how American Apparel is always trying to push the envelope and go one step further, I can’t help but wonder what’s next. Images depicting two individuals engaged in sex acts? Has American Apparel gone too far, or do you agree that they are empowering women?