Gallery: The Ten Worst American Apparel Ads

Dov Charney, I don’t even know what your ads are supposed to sell anymore. Body issues? Sexual Harassment? Tampon Tea? (Hah! That was for you, Uncle Terry).  I do however, know that periodically I am walking through SoHo on Sunday mornings all sleepy with my coffee in hand and then, boom, pudenda meets leggings. I do not hate pudenda. I do not hate leggings. I do hate these ads because they seem unecessary and unartistic and exploitative (because the models don’t get paid enough, not because they’re always half naked) and they suck. They just suck. Below, basically the reasons I treat people who proudly report they are wearing American Apparel exactly the way I’d treat someone who proudly announced that they were wearing Nazi apparel.

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    • Jen Dziura

      I was once reading The Onion on a nearly-empty subway car at night as a gross bridge-and-tunnel dude sat across from me. He caught my attention and gave this sort of dirty-wink and said something gross, like “You like it like that, huh?” I was totally confused until I realized that there was an American Apparel ad on the back cover of The Onion, and this guy genuinely thought I was reading a porn magazine on the train.

      • Dan Ogden

        Jen —

        I hyperlinked my way to this article, and found your now months-old comment, above.

        You were reading the Onion, you have a well-written blog and you’re a stand up comedienne, so we know you’re hip. We also know you caught my preference for avoiding the Oxford comma.

        From what I’ve read in your blog and on your, you’re smart. Which is why I was surprised to see the phrase “gross bridge and tunnel dude” used above.

        Jen, you moved here as an adult and were on the very same outbound train — you, too, easily qualify for the “bridge and tunnel” label.

        As someone who was born and raised in Manhattan, and who has never used that particular phrase prior to this note to describe anyone, I’d suggest reviewing the third definition below before throwing any more rocks:

        Because you’re smarter than that.

      • Abi

        Sorry, I would like to reply to Dan, but it appears I cannot reply to a reply.

        Up until the very end I thought you were hitting on her, and even then, it’s possible that your comment is a particularly astute neg.

        “Bridge and Tunnel” is indeed a vulgar and derogatory phrase, sometimes used by affluent out of state transplants to describe less affluent people in the metropolitan area, and loaded with class and ethnic connotations a newcomer may not be familliar with.

        But hell, we all cross bridges to get around, and we all say things without thinking sometimes. Noobs need love too.

    • mllekate

      I did a presentation on this chap a few years ago in my French Society course, I said masturbation in French in front of a room of 30 peers and was tsked and sent out of my class immediately after the word left my mouth. Apparently my prof wasn’t listening, so she heard the word, looked up at the screen and bam – out!
      Not a fan of Dov himself, he’s too much – but love aa’s deep V tees

    • cori

      That last one with the guy in pink had me in tears! I don’t understand how any of these would make people want to buy their clothes!

    • Veronica

      The thing that astonishes me is that these ads are supposed to make WOMEN want to buy these clothes.

      I, too, can be a 15 year old exploited by a mustache-clad creep…all I have to do is shop at american apparel!

    • Shrimpskins

      We used to call these ‘dirty’ pictures.

    • Allie

      I read an article about him once in which he said he took many of the pictures for his ads during and immediately after intercourse with the women pictured. So the girl who loves her socks so much? There’s a very real possibility that Dov took the pictures on the left while grunting away on top of her.

      I do apologize for putting that image into everyone’s head.

      • Jacq

        Well that was as interesting as it was disgusting. Thank you for the truth, it makes a lot of sense.

    • Nikki

      Seriously? Honestly and truthfully, I’m supposed to see these ads and want to spend money at American Apparel? Who’s genius idea was that?

    • Look her up on google

      Lauren Phoenix IS a porn star. So are several more of the models AA uses. So….. do act surprised when it looks like porn?

    • JusticeIzGorgeous


    • Patrick

      Advertisements are not designed so that people look at them and immediately make a conscious decision to spend money on the company’s product. I’m not judging the worth of these ads in any way, but clearly they are attention-grabbing and memorable, for better or worse. Mission accomplished.

    • Cate

      So do they only sell porn wear and socks? No really do they say clothes, i didn’t see any actual apparel

    • Mo

      thanks for posting this, your comments had me cracking up!! aa ads, however, do not crack me up. contrarily, they make me want to THROW UP!

    • rose

      what about all the other businesses that exploit women? The world exploits women. I would rather have people hating a rightwing made-in-china sweatshop company than a company that has their clothing made in USA, workers that get paid substantially and work in save conditions, support good causes such as gay rights, are against the Arizona Anti-Immigration Law, and are against the war. I support American Apparel! and the models can choose not to work for American Apparel. They are not forced, like the underpaid children slaving away in sweatshops, risking their lives everyday to produce some cheaply made, inexpensive shirt so we don’t have to spend as much money.

    • Bethoven

      Rose is right, what about other things that exploit women?
      Probably, it’s better that women start using “The Islamic Veil” to cover themselves and stop themselves from bieng, molested; we nee to go back to old fashions.

      • Chopin

        First, other wrongs do not make this right.
        Second, I LOVE the idea that some immature teenagers are passing by these ads every morning and are expecting girls to be like this: slutty and cheap. Being sarcastic.

      • kalish

        For some they are, what disappoints you is that some people don’t live like you. I love those photos, maybe they shouldn’t be ads, but is it the worst thing in the wolrd?

    • M


    • Ole

      You seem really really bitter. Half the captions arent even trying to be funny (I hope?) and the other half is critizing the product and not the Ads themselves (which is stupid since this is a Ten Worst ADS article).

    • Ericson
    • Margaux

      I don’t know why anyone is surprised by American Apparel advertisements? I mean the CEO has had tons of sexual harrasment suits brought up against him. That being said the people who do wear AA really don’t care for the adverts and most everyone doesn’t say “sex sells” but “yeah they’re gross, the models are pretty sad looking as well”.

    • alice bright

      these ***&*&$*$(&.8.6mV&&VC???!!!! Americfdan Apparel Ads!!!!!

      Isn’t there anything whoever wants to can do to stop these ads?

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    • ScoJo

      Being a creeper and being a Nazi are two very different things. I understand the dramatic effect being used, but please don’t water down the systematic murder of 6 million people by equating it to a pervert taking risque photos of consenting models. No matter how gross and weird Dov Charney may be, he ain’t Hitler.

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    • kalish

      What AA does is they sho shocking photos but produce in the US, in good conditions while you like to buy from companies that build in bengladesh but respect your stupid prudery. Happily the world is about to change.

      • Aquaria

        You don’t know she buys things made in Bangladesh, stupid filth.

      • kalish

        no they make about 90% of their product in the US, they even distribute outside the US with US service. Shut your mouth idiotic zealot with your asymetrical moral and your how convenient indignation. I love those photos, and any heterosexual would, that’s just hypocrisy.