Exclusive: American Apparel's Newest Ad Features No Pubes; Features Nobody At All

Based on the ads we've seen from American Apparel in the new year, it seemed it was fair to say the struggling hipster retailer was returning to its racy roots--each new ad more shocking and porn-y than the previous one. To wit: pantless models climbing trees, topless models painting their nails or riding a horse (like the one at right), and one model whose pubic hair shows through her white lace panties that got everyone else's panties in a bunch. The ads are unquestionably provocative and we questioned whether the near-bankrupt retailer was returning to their '70s porn-esque advertising roots after a streak of more benign and conservative ads--including illustrated ones and one featuring founder Dov Charney working on his laptop--in an effort to drive up sales. But a new ad set to run in an upcoming issue of VICE flies in the face of that theory. It features, well, no one. No partially nude barely legal college student, no Dov Charney, no one. Check it out.
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Leah Chernikoff
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Based on the ads we've seen from American Apparel in the new year, it seemed it was fair to say the struggling hipster retailer was returning to its racy roots--each new ad more shocking and porn-y than the previous one. To wit: pantless models climbing trees, topless models painting their nails or riding a horse (like the one at right), and one model whose pubic hair shows through her white lace panties that got everyone else's panties in a bunch. The ads are unquestionably provocative and we questioned whether the near-bankrupt retailer was returning to their '70s porn-esque advertising roots after a streak of more benign and conservative ads--including illustrated ones and one featuring founder Dov Charney working on his laptop--in an effort to drive up sales. But a new ad set to run in an upcoming issue of VICE flies in the face of that theory. It features, well, no one. No partially nude barely legal college student, no Dov Charney, no one. Check it out.

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Based on the ads we've seen from American Apparel in the new year, it seemed it was fair to say the struggling hipster retailer was returning to its racy roots--each new ad more shocking and porn-y than the previous one. To wit: pantless models climbing trees, topless models painting their nails or riding a horse (like the one at right), and one model whose pubic hair shows through her white lace panties that got everyone else's panties in a bunch.

The ads are unquestionably provocative and we questioned whether the near-bankrupt retailer was returning to their '70s porn-esque advertising roots after a streak of more benign and conservative ads--including illustrated ones and one featuring founder Dov Charney working on his laptop--in an effort to drive up sales.

But a new ad set to run in an upcoming issue of VICE flies in the face of that theory. It features, well, no one. No partially nude barely legal college student, no Dov Charney, no one.

Check it out.

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It's an image of Charney's cobbled together dark room from when he was 11. Along with the ad is this story:

Since his early years, Dov Charney has used photography as a means of self-expression, in spite of his childhood dyslexia. According to Dov's mother Sylvia, his interest in photography began when he was about 7 years old, when he became obsessed with submitting a photograph for a competition. It was at that time that he set up a makeshift darkroom in his mother's closet, where he developed film and made small contact sheets with a light bulb. "His first major photo essay was a series of photographs he shot during a mid-1970s teachers strike in Quebec City," explains his mother. "The central focus of his work has been the urban vernacular and the people in heh city."

By age 18, Dov was running his business out of the basement of his father's home in Montreal. For those close to him, it is known that photography was one of the central ways that he was able to market and promote his business. Today American Apparel is over a half-billion dollar business producing more than 1 million garments per week.

Above is a photograph of Dov's darkroom in the boiler of his father's home, taken when he was 11 years old.

The ad is an attempt to connect in a more personal way--American Apparel becomes more personal because you know these intimate things about its founder.

"American Apparel features a mix of different messages and ones about the origins of the company are always some of our favorites," says a spokesperson from the company. American Apparel's spokesperson also made a point of noting that all of the latest batch of ads were designed at the same time to counter any argument that this latest ad is a response to the outcry over the more racy ads that have grabbed headlines in the last few weeks.

But with all the flack that Charney has taken over the years, including the claims of sexual harassment made against him, does this ad work in endearing him to you? Are you more sympathetic now that you know Charney struggled with dyslexia and understand his passion for photography?

Which American Apparel do you prefer? Modest and personal or unabashedly naked and provocative?