A series of ads showing near-naked models of possibly Middle Eastern or Asian descent with the tagline “Made in Bangladesh” are featured in a new American Apparel ad campaign.
American Apparel’s clothing is made in the United States, a fact it often touts.
Saddled with $240 million in debt, the clothing company is suffering heavy losses, and yesterday received a delisting notice from the New York Stock Exchange.
American Apparel CEO Dov Charney is known for his brash, crude ways, and this ad campaign is no exception. While the new American Apparel ads seem to be an attempt at humor and a political statement, they’re destined to create controversy for their lack of subtlety pairing dark-skinned, near-naked models with the words “Made in Bangladesh.” They call to mind the United Colors of Benetton campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s that shocked people while garnering a large amount of attention for the brand. Charney is right on the politics of the issue — he has been outspoken about retailers maximizing profits on the backs of underpaid workers in poor conditions, calling this a “blind, desensitized way of making clothing.” That alone may help obscure any issues people may have with the campaign, although it probably won't have much impact on the company's bottom line.