After racking up just enough controversy points with their latest ad, the peeps at American Apparel revealed the meaning behind the contentious image.
The model, Maks, also happens to be an employee at the company, and has been vocal about the fact that she absolutely felt comfortable posing topless for the ad.
This is reiterated by the company's creative director, Iris Alonzo, who said:
"We have often photographed and featured our employees in our advertising campaigns over the years. We’d been looking forward to doing a photo shoot with Maks for a long time. She’s a lovely person and a great employee. We also found her background to be compelling for a variety of reasons and the ad came from that. We’re very proud of her and her bravery."
The ad definitely capitalizes on Maks' background and looks in more ways than one. Iris explained:
"Like a lot of our ads, it has multiple meanings. The “Made in Bangladesh” headline refers to the origin of the model as well as an issue of critical importance in the fashion industry. In regard to Maks, she is an independent young woman who is forging her own path regardless of what may be culturally expected of her. We believe all women should be able to decide how to live their lives and have the freedom to express themselves."
She also mentions the fair labor issue, which American Apparel is both outspoken about and very proud of, saying:
"The labor issue is something we’ve spoken out about for a long time. Just one year ago the Rana Plaza factory collapse took the lives of 1,140 garment workers. We find this to be devastating and inexcusable. In addition to physically unsafe conditions, Bangladesh has some of the lowest paid garment workers in the world. The recently increased monthly wage is still only $68 USD per month. American Apparel’s nearly 5,000 industrial workers in Los Angeles are earning from $10- $25 per hour. It is important for consumers to think about the people that we don’t see when looking at fashion photography. And it is absolutely critical for brands that are engaging in any sort of manufacturing to be ethically responsible. Garment manufacture is a difficult and skilled profession and American Apparel’s mission for the last 15 years has been to prove that it can be done without exploiting or endangering the people behind the machines. Because the point is not where a factory is, but how the people inside of it are being treated."
As for allegations of sexism, Iris insists that American Apparel's main goal is to celebrate women, not objectify them. She explained:
"We absolutely celebrate women, diversity, healthy body image and female empowerment in our ads and in our company culture in general. We never retouch the women in our photos, don’t cover our models in makeup and always try to capture the individuality and personality of the subject – who are usually our employees, friends and customers. We also try to tell a bit of their story in the ad, like we did with Maks. Some ads are sexually charged, some are not, and some are both. We release a tremendous number of images featuring personal style, our industrial workers, even members of our CEO’s family. The media tends to focus on the more risqué content. At times that can be frustrating but it is ultimately what creates the platform where a single, simple ad, such as the “Made in Bangladesh” ad, can get the kind of coverage and attention that it has so far."
Even if only a few people get past the bare boobs in the image to read the text and really think about the meaning of the ad, it's better than nothing!
[Image via American Apparel]
Tags: ad campaigns, american apparel, fashion smashion