Is American Apparel Playing Us With Its Campaign Strategy?

In totally unsurprising news, American Apparel released an ad late last week for its miniskirts that, well, don't really show much of the skirt.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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In totally unsurprising news, American Apparel released an ad late last week for its miniskirts that, well, don't really show much of the skirt.
Photo: American Apparel

Photo: American Apparel

In totally unsurprising news, American Apparel released an ad late last week for its miniskirts that, well, don't really show much of the skirt.

Much like the Jan. 2014 ad that featured a girl riding a bicycle in one of the brand's short skirts with much of her butt showing, the latest in AA's string of provocative, borderline porn-y image goes for a similar approach, and focuses on the model's assets as opposed to the clothing that the retailer is trying to sell.

Yes, this new ad is pervy, but we have come to expect nothing less from the brand that seems to crave negative attention. However, we've noticed a bit of an unusual pattern as of late that's making us wonder if the California-based company is trying to play both sides of the coin.

For instance, the last two American Apparel campaigns we covered on Fashionista were seemingly about female empowerment. The brand featured mannequins with bushy, all-natural pubic hair in its windows back in February, which challenged the conventional norms about what is considered "sexy" and, in turn, celebrated the female form. Only weeks before, it proudly hired a (gorgeous) 62-year-old "advanced" model to be the face of its lingerie line. We see how the latter campaign could still be considered unsavory -- American Apparel treating women as sex objects, no matter their ages -- but our immediate reaction was a surge of girl power: It was great to see the brand known for hiring underage-looking models almost exclusively promoting a different image for once.

It seems to us that American Apparel is trying to get away with its skeevy, Lolita-ish campaigns by doing one that women will (theoretically) love in between. As Stephanie pointed out as we were discussing the issue, it's like Hollywood actors doing movies: They'll often balance a cheesy, rom-com (and high-paying) role for every thoughtful indie they star in.

What do you think of American Apparel's marketing strategy? Do you find your perception of the brand changing with each new controversial ad -- or are you tired of the controversy altogether?