Tomorrow marks the official celebration of Rosh Hashanah and–while NYFW organizers weren’t sympathetic to the date–here comes American Apparel to observe the holiday in the only way they know: by provocatively stunt casting an Hasidic Jewish model as their latest campaign face.
With curled peyos and Shtreimel in hand, model Yoel Weisshaus poses for the characteristically unwavering gaze of the American Apparel cameras. Per the brand’s Tumblr:
Meet Yoel Weisshaus. Yoel, a Chasidish Jew who grew up in a Yiddish speaking home in Brooklyn, attended Yeshiva at an early age. Yoel is a peasant with chutzpa known for suing the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey over its controversial toll hikes, at prices that exceed twofold what one earns per hour under the minimum wage. Yoel is talented and drafts his own pleadings because he cannot afford an attorney, his case is still ongoing. He freelances in sales of American made braidings and ribbons for local garments and hat manufactures. Yoel has an accent because English is not his first language, but he is still striving to learn English writing.
While this will likely stir controversy within a community that famously struggles to live beside the young North Brooklyn transplants comprising American Apparel’s target demographic, it’s unlikely to cause as much as offensive as their previous PR wizardry.
And, to the company’s credit, the last couple years have brought more than one excellent campaign challenging the fashion industry’s deeply stupid beauty standards–not to mention larger (stupider?) restrictions within the cultural framework. How you feel about their method, however, may depend.
Which is to say, some will find the stunt casting of an orthodox Jew exploitative, some won’t–and onto the next.
Here’s a few more shots of Weisshaus: