Using half-naked women to sell “unisex” American Apparel shirts has sparked a sexism debate in Sweden, which ultimately resulted in the American clothing company to be reported to country's advertising watchdog, The Local reported on Wednesday.
"I think it's totally sickening how American Apparel markets its clothes," Swedish blogger Emelie Eriksson told the Swedish news site. "It shows they have a very degrading view toward women and I'm surprised they've been able to do this without facing any strong criticism."
The 24-year-old took to her blog on Tuesday, "En blommig tekopp" (A floral teacup), to vent about the company’s “sexist” ad. "Unisex. UNI and SEX. What is it really about?" she asked her readers, and then posted images from American Apparel’s website.
Men are shown wearing the shirt buttoned up and in an unassuming pose, while women were shown with the shirt open, nothing underneath and positioned in a provocative way. "There are hardly any men on the site without any clothes on compared to the number of nearly naked women on the site. The woman are also often in bed and look like they've just had sex,” the blogger wrote.
According to what Erikkson told The Local, she believes American Apparel has a “twisted and degrading view of women. They want to be seen and they know sex sells, but they don't think about how degrading these pictures are for women."
While Swedish Advertising Ombudsman confirmed to a Swedish newspaper they had received complaints about the images, there wasn’t anything they could do since the website isn’t in Swedish and it doesn’t have a se. domain.
American Apparel responded to the criticism, telling the Huffington Post they are not the “slightest bit discriminatory.” Their full response can be viewed below:
“As a company, American Apparel is very sensitive to gender and sexual issues, just as we have been to issues like immigration and gay marriage. In this case, the actual product model photo for this unisex item is fully clothed for women, just as it is for men. Unfortunately, some bloggers have confused an artistic photo shoot which accompany the pages with a product shot and a controversy erupted as a result.
“American Apparel is well known for its provocative imagery, artistic photographs and its stance on free expression within the fashion industry. Our style deliberately eschews the photoshopped and impossibly unreal aesthetics of many of our competitors. We don't think there is anything in these photos out of synch with our standards and we think they portray the garments and the models in an attractive way and are not even the slightest bit discriminatory. Clearly we'd never seek to upset anyone and we're sorry to anyone who is upset.”