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American Apparel ads banned in U.K. still online in Canada

Lia Grainger
Shine On
December 5, 2012

When will American Apparel learn that posting images of teenagers' bums on the internet is going to get them in big trouble?

....Or perhaps that's the point.

The controversial hipster clothing vendor American Apparel is in hot water again, this time with the British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for a series of stocking and hosiery ads that were deemed "unnecessarily sexual" and inappropriate to be viewed by children, reports The Guardian.

One of images in question features two young women in bumless tights with their rears thrust towards the camera. In another, a young woman that could be under the age of 16 appears in a sheer top through which her bare breasts are clearly visible.

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After a complaint was lodged against 23 images by a mom who had been perusing the site with her 12-year-old the daughter, the ASA ruled that three of the ads in question should be banned, and issued the following statement.

"The ads must not appear again. We told American Apparel they should not use images which were likely to sexualize models who appeared under 16 years of age, and they should not use images which were likely to cause offence."

In Canada, the images in question have caused no such stir. At least two of the three banned images can be viewed on American Apparel's Canadian website, along with the other 21 ads that were called into question by the complaint.

American Apparel claims the ads are "standard practice" in the hosiery and lingerie industry.

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It's true that sexy images are the norm when it comes to marketing sexy clothing, so what is it about the American Apparel ads gets them repeatedly banned?

One factor is that the women in the ads often seem less like women and more like young girls. There's no denying that many of them appear to be  very young and perhaps underage.

Then there's the fully exposed breasts and buttocks, which is not so standard in apparel marketing — even lingerie.

And then there's the fact that American Apparel intentionally photographs their ads in a way that makes them look like they were shot in your mom's basement. The full flash, lack of airbrushing and use of non-professional models makes these images look less like fashion spreads and more like pornography.

Which, not surprisingly, makes the parents of some young girls upset. It remains to be seen whether the British ban will prompt a similar ban here in Canada.

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