Tuesday, 18 March 2014


There are several brands which will never avoid controversy, one of them is American Appareal. Pictures oscillating between fashion and erotic were commonly used for brand's marketing purposes and the same trend continues on lately released promotional picture. We can see there a model, former Muslim, who is topless in opened jeans with 'Made in Bangladesh' written across her chest. The picture is simple, the written words are very direct and it begun a storm in medias all around the world. We have seen so many controversial ads of this brand till now, what is different about this one that it flamed up the public opinion? 

To explain an element of scandal and controversy I will briefly bring facts from fashion industry. Nowadays it is very popular practice to use factories in countries as Bangladesh. It does not surprise as the costs of production is much lower than in so called highly-developed countries, but such cost reduction is made by providing poor working condition for factory's employees. American Apparel is one of a few brands which did not decide to move their production abroad. It's factory is located in LA and offers to it's employees all basic benefits, such as health care, which often are not given to workers in factories abroad. To highlight it's FAIR-TRADE oriented attitude American Apparel asked it's merchandiser, Maks, born in Dhaka Bangladesh, to take a part in  advertisement project that caused storm in medias across the world.

Maks is 22 year old, distanced to her religion and tradition. The ad's caption says "Maks doesn't feel the need to identify herself as an American or a Bengali and is not content to fit her life into anyone else's conventional narrative." The model herself is defending the ad and the cause in Daily Mail interview. "I was fully comfortable with the photo shoot and went with it"- she says. "I fully support the message of the ad. I love and embrace all cultures and religions. I am choosing to be creative and expressing myself freely." 

How come such a good cause received such a negative feedback from all around the world? 

We are living in a world where scandal is a common practice. It is so popular, that we gain a false conviction that taboo does not exist anymore. Unfortunately there is nothing like a society free of taboos. A taboo is simply a prohibition of an action based on beliefs and by beliefs we can understand a wide spectrum of commandments set up by eg. religion or politics. Taboo is giving us false feeling of secure, by prohibiting to bring up difficult topics we need to deal with  and following the rule 'out of sight out of mind', 

Is American Apparel ad breaking taboo? I believe it does and probably more than one. 

Firstly Muslim religion will not find any understanding for her action due to it's moral rules. Attitude towards woman in Muslim society showing naked body in public is still very sensitive topic. From time to time it is widely discussed, but very reluctantly modified by Islamic societies.

Secondly the consumers society demanding towards worlds economy are another topic, which is very difficult to discuss. The economy asks for cost reductions and offering cheaper goods to supply the market. The moral consequences though are huge due to many factories do not respecting human rights. 

Breaking taboos is having also one more result and we cannot forget it. Apart from all good message advert presented by American Apparel is bringing with itself the main effect was fully achieved. The advert made all newspapers from around the world to write and discuss it's matter. This advertisement not only highlighted economical deficiencies, but mainly made American brand even more recognizable than it was before. 

Other controversial ads which made world keep it's breath:

Tom Ford has released couple of controversial and eventually banned in some countries ads- here Eyewear

Benetton released many controversial ads, including it's cycle UNHATE.
Girbaud Fashion House ad inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's last supper banned as it could hurt religious feelings of ones.
Shameless ads of Suit Supply from 2010 considered as too shameless.
Just one of Sisley's ads that made a scandal: Fashion Junkie Campaign, China 2007

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