Celebrate American Apparel’s Comeback By Revisiting Its Most Provocative Ads Ever

The racy brand was once criticized for being too sexy–now it has a whole new look.


American Apparel, famous for its drawstring hoodies and sexually provocative advertising, has relaunched globally, after a turbulent last half-decade.

The company suffered a number of high-profile setbacks, like expanding too quickly, declaring bankruptcy twice, facing protests from workers and the 2015 ousting its founder and CEO Dov Charney after sexual harassment claims.

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In 2017, the beleaguered streetwear brand was ironically boughten out by a foreign company, Canada’s Gildan Activewear, and is now staging its comeback with a more low-key “Back to Basics” collection.

(Photo: American Apparel)

It looks like more of the same sexy hipster threads you know from its ’00s pre-Instagram heyday, but this time the advertising places an emphasis on body positivity and diversity rather than lurid sexual provocation.

(Photo: American Apparel)

“We didn’t take the approach of saying, ‘this is a new brand’, we took the approach of: ‘this is a brand that is deeply loved and made some mistakes and there are lessons to be learned’,” brand marketing director Sabina Weber told The Guardian.

(Photo: American Apparel)

“We went back through the archive and it’s very clear where the ads and images were working, and where they just become completely unacceptable. Especially as a woman, I look at those images and I cringe.”

(Photo: American Apparel)

“What the brand stood for prior to it becoming overly sexualized and uncomfortable was actually at the forefront of what’s happening now,” Weber added.

(Photo: American Apparel)

“Using real girls, showing diversity, fighting for immigration and standing for LGBTQs was being done by American Apparel long before anyone else figured out that there was a commercial value there.”

(Photo: American Apparel)

See some of those “overly sexualized and uncomfortable” in the slideshow above.