About this advert
For: American Apparel.
10 November, 2010,
Courtenay 's view
American Apparel has this odd personality where it’s obnoxious, nonchalant high fashion and human rights campaigning lounge wear all in one go. It was formed in 1989, but has (possibly) cleverly constructed itself to be the identity of this tail end millennium hipster culture. Hipsters. Lol. Created by Canadian, Dov Charney, American Apparel used to simply be wholesalers of blank t-shirts. In 2005 it successfully moved into the retail market. This is where things get really good, but quite complicated for American Apparel. American Apparel ended up situating itself at the higher end of high-street fashion. Arrogant really, for a company that had just sold, well, the stuff fashion is made of. Presumably this was because of the price of their products which justifies itself by claiming that everything is made in their L.A factory by workers who are paid an average of $12 per hour.* This means that their demographic is young adults rather than teens. People who still have an abstract idea of ‘cool’, but also have disposable income. From 2002 – 2004 American Apparel doubled its annual sales figures and in 2006 Endeavor Acquisition Corp bought the company for $360million. That’s a lot of t-shirts. American Apparel design their own advertisements and are mostly based on CEO, Dov Charney’s ideas and how he wants to express himself through his company. They’re consistently risqué. I think the problem with American Apparel’s advertising is their placement. I think they would be fine hidden in the depths of ‘Dazed and Confused’ magazine or ‘Vice’ magazine, but they’re not: They’re on billboards, in their shops, on their website, on the back covers of mainstream magazines for anyone to look at. For the record the ASA doesn’t agree with me and did in fact ban an American Apparel ad in the same vein as this one. This is Lauren Phoenix. Look her up. She’s a retired Canadian porn actress and director. Bless. At the time her ad was aired, she was not, in any way, retired. The ad describes her as ‘150lbs of magic’. Which is lovely, if completely objectifying her. And boy, does she ever love her socks. The ad is crazy un-subtle. They’re using sex to sell their products. One argument is that this is okay, because the people in these ads aren’t being sexualised, it’s the items. That’s not true. It’s plain as day that you are meant to want to take Phoenix somewhere more private or wish you were Phoenix, depending on your persuasion. This was probably more the issue with a lot of people: That this ad jumps over the forth wall. Phoenix isn’t a good looking model, she actually is a porn star. She isn’t just employed to be sexy to sell socks, she sells sex as her day job. People feel uncomfortable with being confronted by reality when they don’t expect it. Once you find out Phoenix is a porn star, do you want those socks more or less? Do you feel disheartened or liberated by her? At least you know she’s not an over-photo-shopped Maybelline affair. (Do you reckon this was pretty good ad for her as a brand?) It’s deliberately shocking in the mass media in order to get tongues wagging about their brand, but that’s not their target market. They want twenty-thirty year olds who think their ads are sexy and subversive. The twenty-thirty year olds who probably don’t wear any of this sport-styled clothing to play sport. (Guess it depends on what you consider, ‘sport’.)The girls and boys with start-up Indie discos and fashion blogs. The ads are Dov Charney’s personality and work ethics in visual form. It’s his company, they’re his ads and no matter what anyone thinks he’s still going to put them out there in full salacious nature. Trouble is, they’re not working anymore and American Apparel is apparently $91million in debt. Maybe sex doesn’t sell as well as it used to? Maybe we’re simply desensitized to American Apparel – we just roll our eyes at their old-hat naked ads and move on? We’re too confused about whether it’s politically correct to buy American Apparel or not? As a company that has become a heavy hitter in recent pop culture it’ll be interesting to see where this trouble takes them and where the hipsters will go if American Apparel dies. American Apparel are proud of these ads though, so have a cheeky look. It’s guaranteed to be cheeky. http://americanapparel.net/presscenter/adarchive/index.html *American Apparel actually seem to have some massive ethics issues over their workers. It’s a shuffle between the union accusing them of inappropriate conduct and the possibly mislead campaign for immigrants in L.A, ‘Legalize L.A’. Read more here: http://www.knowmore.org/wiki/index.php?title=American_Apparel
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