When American Apparel declared bankruptcy and sold out last year, we thought it was dunzo. The brand was picked up for a cool $88 million by Gildan, a Canadian apparel company that focuses on wholesale. Considering the scandals that have rocked American Apparel over the years, we fully expected a re-branding of the clothing—but early in August 2017, American Apparel’s website popped back up and the aesthetic of the brand was decidedly the same as it was before. Well, except one major difference: All of the models on the website appear to be fully clothed.
It’s super weird seeing the change, considering the old American Apparel built an empire on little more than moderately good underwear, T-Shirts and ads full of controversy and nearly nude models. The previously Los Angeles-based company regularly depicted young women in sexually-charged positions, topless, pantsless, and borderline naked.
Certain ads were harmless, while others—like the one that depicts a model named Maks who hails from Bangladesh, a part of the world consistently embroiled in hot water because of poor working conditions for factory laborers— is not. In the ad, Maks appears completely topless and across her chest are the words “Made in Bangladesh,” and underneath is her full story:
“She is a merchandiser who has been with American Apparel since 2010. Born in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, Maks vividly remembers attending mosque as a child alongside her conservative Muslim parents. At age four, her family made a life changing move to Marina Del Rey, California. Although she suddenly found herself a world away from Dhaka, she continued following her parent’s religious traditions and sustained her Islamic faith throughout her childhood.”
After reading the text accompanying the topless photo of Maks, we were prompted to inquire: what does her being topless have to do with anything? Could not the point have been made that she’s abandoning her restrictive, conservative religious beliefs in a way that doesn’t also exploit her for her body?
We came to expect nothing better from the brand, whose former CEO Dov Charney is a known sleaze, having been accused by his employees of unwanted sexual contact time and time again. And perhaps this ad isn’t really as outlandish as we first thought; a look back through the history of all American Apparel’s ads reveals that the ad featuring Maks barely scrapes the surface of the old brand’s now-infamous porn aesthetic.
Click through the gallery to see the 50 most porn-y American Apparel ads ever. And consider yourself fairly warned: they are graphic, rather unsettling, and completely NSFW.
All Photos: American Apparel Ad Archive