Patty Huntington exposes the company’s porn-style approach to women
Patty Huntington over at Frockwriter wrote this blog about American Apparel’s favoured positioning of women in its advertising. Of course American Apparel has a long history of making women’s sexual parts the central focus of its marketing approach. But some of my blog readers may not realise that American Apparel’s porn-style representations of women have been shipped to Australia with its first store opening in Melbourne in 2008. We at Collective Shout are adding American Apparel to our ‘Cross ‘Em off your Xmas list’ campaign. Welcome AA to our (growing) list of sexploitation companies to boycott this Christmas. We hope to bring you just that much closer to bankruptcy.
Apparently even American Apparel’s store mannequins have to spread their legs
While in town for the Adelaide Fashion Festival a fortnight ago, frockwriter couldn’t help notice the front window of the American Apparel boutique on Rundle Street, the city’s busiest shopping strip. The display included one squatting store mannequin who was flashing rather a lot of va-jay-jay. Not literally, as she was wearing a pair of micro utility shorts and of course, most store dummies aren’t that anatomically accurate. But anyone walking past the boutique was confronted by the mannequin’s crotch and it did seem a little in-your-face. Not to mention vulgar.
We were curious if perhaps the artful arrangement of slutty store mannequins might be part of the company’s visual merchandising handbook. A couple of calls to two of American Apparel’s three Australian boutiques bore no fruit. The staff were extremely tight-lipped. All they would tell frockwriter was that everything is managed directly from the American Apparel headquarters in Los Angeles.
But is it all that surprising, really?
This is the very same company that has been responsible for the following genre of advertising imagery:
And after a quick net search, we managed to find several other examples of similarly suggestively-posed American Apparel store dummies.
And this was photographed in one of American Apparel’s New York stores in the same year:
Here is an almost identical mannequin – let’s call it American Apparel’s “Bend Over and Take It Up The Ass” model – in a Toronto store window display in June this year. With the addition of some faeces, courtesy of the G20 protests.
It’s not the first time that American Apparel and its allegedly notoriously touchy feely founder and ceo Dov Charney have found themselves in the poo.
Charney has been the target of numerous sexual harassment lawsuits – although apparently none of them so far successful – and the company has been targeted by numerous consumer boycotts over its “sexist” advertising.
American Apparel is, moreover, currently being sued by its shareholders and teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.
Perhaps sex doesn’t always sell quite as well as they thought.
Conceptuallyand aesthetically slutty
It was interesting to see the twitter debate prompted by Huntington’s use of the term ‘slutty’ in this piece. Some took offense, as though she were applying the term to actual women. She wasn’t. Huntington was referring to the AA’s consistently giving women the slutification treatment.
Huntington provided me this postscript:
This post began as a discussion of American Apparel’s promotional imagery, then segued into a mini debate over slut shaming. I used the term “slutty” twice, referring to American Apparel’s “slutty” ad campaigns and store mannequins – once in a tweet to promote the post and once in the copy.
Some people didn’t like it – one party getting quite worked up over the issue on Twitter on Saturday, urging me to choose an alternative because the word is, she noted, so misogynistic. Others, however, did not seem to have a problem. My original tweet “You’ve seen the slutty ads, now it looks like even american apparel’s shop dummies have to spread ‘em” has been retweeted so far 15 times. When I canvassed opinion specifically about the slut shaming issue on Monday, one reader – a 21 year-old gender studies major [@Alyxg] – noted on Twitter, “I don’t think calling AA’s campaigns slutty shames anyone but AA. Their strategy IS conceptually+aesthetically slutty”.
That’s my view too.