Los Angeles-based Thomas Alleman's commentary on the ubiquitous and perturbing images that constitute American Apparel's ad campaigns.
"American Apparel is an internationally-known purveyor of hip sportswear. Their advertising campaigns are controversial for their depiction of very young women who're sexualized in strangely-poised photographs. In Los Angeles, where American Apparel manufactures its line, the company has for many years licensed about a hundred small billboards in ethnic and working-class neighborhoods, where those ads are placed at eye level."
"The sexual fantasies portrayed in those sleek, graphically simple ads are surrounded by the very complicated reality of LA's visually chaotic urban landscape, whose grit, anarchy and blight are at odds with the blithe spirit of those strange billboards. My photographs document the "dialogue" between LA's built environment and American Apparel's groovy, pervy teenage daydreams." - Thomas Alleman.
All images © Thomas Alleman
Editor's aside: Last year, the campaign "Back To School" was banned in the UK by The Advertising Standards Authority for "sexualising schoolgirls".
"Two ads, on the advertiser's website and Instagram page, for a skirt which was featured in their 'School Days' or 'Back To School' range:
a. The website ad on www.americanapparel.co.uk featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt, a top and white underwear, bending over to touch the ground, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her crotch and buttocks were visible.
b. The ad posted on the advertisers' UK Instagram page featured an image of a girl wearing the skirt and a top leaning into a car, photographed from behind from a low angle. Her buttocks were visible.
American Apparel (UK) Ltd said the images which appeared in their advertising featured non-airbrushed, everyday people, most of whom were not professional models. They said their approach was not graphic, explicit or pornographic, but was designed to show a range of different images of people who were natural, not posed and real. They said their models were happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose and were not portrayed in a manner which was vulnerable, negative or exploitative."