Dear Director of Marketing for American Apparel,
I remember when I first heard about your company, about five years ago. I was excited that an American company was going to challenge the outsourcing several clothing companies and retail stores relied on, outsourcing that meant using cheap, sweatshop-style labor in many instances. I looked forward to supporting a company that employed people in a unionized environment and created fashionable and affordable clothing.
Today, I am disillusioned. When I return to New York City to visit friends and family, I see American Apparel billboards throughout Manhattan. Often these billboards showcase women in compromising positions to the point where one wonders what is being advertised. Is it the American Apparel tights, since it’s the only thing the model is wearing or is it the model, body contorted like she’s writhing with sexual pleasure? Those tights must feel good. When your 2010 Miami advertisement campaign “salute[d] Miami” was it with the model’s wide-open legs or her American Apparel bathing suit? I cannot see the details on the bathing suit; maybe the suit is incredible enough to salute a culturally vibrant city.
I wonder how many car accidents your billboard marketing campaigns caused. Fast drivers, mouths agape out of sexual desire or bewilderment. I wonder how many child passengers, particularly young girls, thought that becoming a grown-up meant spreading legs wide or pretending to hump the floor.
I understand that your division has won countless awards for marketing and branding. But I ask—what are you branding? Is it the clothing? You have a definite following in “hipster” couture culture, so why the need to sell the clothing with overtly sexual and often degrading advertisements? I have yet to see an advertisement of yours with a man’s legs spread wide open or looking ready to be spanked. Women have countless years of bodily exploitation to overcome and your campaigns only complicate the process; while women try to assert their intellectual value in society, your advertisements teach the selling of a woman’s body to sell products.
Stand by your responsible production practices by implementing a different marketing plan. Show your female consumers that you do not believe they are to be consumed. Make me believe in and support your company again.