Culture

Unpacking the Hidden Subtext of American Apparel’s Sexiest Ads (NSFW)

Culture

Unpacking the Hidden Subtext of American Apparel’s Sexiest Ads (NSFW)

+

As we learned yesterday, American Apparel head Dov Charney is to be terminated from his role in the company over misconduct allegations. “The independent directors became aware of some facts we’d been previously unaware of,” new board chair Allan Mayer told the New York Times. “The only right and sensible thing to do at that point was to ask Dov to leave.”

Not a great week to be a peddler of ironic “sex,” as this piece “Twilight of the Assholes: Goodbye to Dov Charney, Terry Richardson, and Hipster Misogyny” on Flavorwire points out.

What Charney’s ouster means for the company is yet to be seen, but some observers aren’t predicting great things. “Charney’s sudden firing probably will lead to drastic changes at the company, analysts said — layoffs, store closures, bankruptcy, a sale and even a shift away from the ‘made in America’ manufacturing strategy Charney championed,” the Los Angeles Times writes.

The business implications will shake out soon, but what I want to know is what’s going to happen the brand’s real legacy — the reason we all care about them at all in the first place —  the advertisements? Could it spell a shift in the company’s aesthetic branding direction? It seems possible.

With that in mind, I thought it a good occasion to take a look back at the advertisements themselves and try to unpack some of the thorny subtext to get to the heart of just what made this company such a cultural firebrand. Here’s what each of these American Apparel ads actually mean:

 

american-apparel-ad-LA-sophie-031204

Blow jobs are cool and good.

american-apparel-ad

A blow job from a teenager is extra cool and good.

MTIwOTA1Nzg4Nzg4MjM0MTMw

What if your boner were a tree? Pretty nice I bet!

 

AAridingpants

Women are like horses in that you can ride them, but sometimes they also wear riding pants to ride horses. Also fucking is good.

AA_Steffi-Riding-Pants

Sex is good when the girl is sad.

6386_american-apparel-ad-vice-summermeltdown-240605

Blow jobs are still good.

 

6204_american-apparel-ad-montreal-deepv-06

Blow jobs are good.

 

 

6151_american-apparel-ad-LA-tshirttime-020506

You hear a lot about blow jobs these days. But what about a blow job from two girls at once? You gotta figure that’s going to be good. Seems like it would be according to this ad.

 

 

Ad_Vice 150805.ai

Sex is a blow job that you give with a vagina.

 

Ad_Boink 220405.ai

Masturbating is good.

Ad_S Magazine 240308.ai

Blow jobs are good.

MTIwOTA1ODI0NzU4NTE5Njk4

Butt holes are funny, yet still good and a sex thing.

Ad_Vice Italy 230307.ai

Dogs are cute.