American Apparel using explicit sexual imagery and scandal to sell clothes? Why I never. The company that most recently raised shaved hipster eyebrows by employing a 62-year old model and displaying mannequins that were rocking some serious pubic forestry is once again stirring the pot for the sake of promoting… something. This time, the Internet outrage and wagging fingers are being caused by an ad featuring a model named Maks, who hails from Bangladesh and has apparently worked for the clothing retailer since 2010.
In this particular ad, Maks is promoting the High Waist Jean, but you probably didn’t notice that because she’s not wearing a shirt and you’re not even reading this right now are you…
Obviously, you can see an uncensored version of the ad on American Apparel’s website, along with the description of this specific ad and Maks’s story. You see, she’s not just a model without a shirt on, advertising jeans while distracting us all with her bare breasts. She’s also a symbol of inspiration, hope and change that the world so desperately needs.
She is a merchandiser who has been with American Apparel since 2010. Born in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, Maks vividly remembers attending mosque as a child alongside her conservative Muslim parents. At age four, her family made a life changing move to Marina Del Rey, California. Although she suddenly found herself a world away from Dhaka, she continued following her parent’s religious traditions and sustained her Islamic faith throughout her childhood. Upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions. A woman continuously in search of new creative outlets, Maks unreservedly embraced this photo shoot.
She has found some elements of Southern California culture to be immediately appealing, but is striving to explore what lies beyond the city’s superficial pleasures. She 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. That’s what makes her essential to the mosaic that is Los Angeles, and unequivocally, a distinct figure in the ever expanding American Apparel family. Maks was photographed in the High Waist Jean, a garment manufactured by 23 skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare.
So there you have it. This young woman whose breasts are in plain view and impossible to ignore is helping to spread the message of fair wages and the need to put an end to sweatshops in underdeveloped nations. Or maybe it’s a statement against the oppression that women face in other cultures while celebrating the freedom that they experience in America without having to sacrifice the identity gifted to them by their native countries. Either way, people are pissed off and talking about American Apparel, so job well done, advertising geniuses.