American Apparel has been gamely shocking the world for years now. When they’re not hiring models who look fifteen (and seeing the subsequent ad campaigns banned), they’re getting in trouble for tone deaf casting calls, getting in even more trouble for tone deaf casting calls and making some really admirable, forward-thinking casting decisions. Or just provocative ones?
Along the way, we’ve occasionally had to remind ourselves that American Apparel makes clothes. Not just any old clothes, but reliable, affordable basics that aren’t made in dank, oppressive sweatshops overseas.
Sometimes those reliable, affordable basics made in the states by workers paid a living wage have bleeding vaginas on them, but whatever:
Yes, it’s a little bit Egon Schiele, a little bit Quentin Blake, a little bit Pinterest-friendly nail art and a lot of controversy-friendly menstrual blood.
It is a collaboration with all-female online art platform The Ardorous, which is curated by Toronto-born artist Petra Collins. Per the brand, Collins “began her infatuation with photography at age 15 and became an American Apparel retail employee around the same time. She creates portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture. Now 20, Petra has worked with Vice, Vogue Italia, Purple, Rookie, and is a contributing photographer for American Apparel.” An unsurprising resume for someone who explores female sexuality by stamping t-shirts with autoerotic menstruation imagery.
What’s more, this tee isn’t just ham-fisted provocation, it’s also charity: 50% of proceeds from the sale of these garments go directly to The Ardorous artists. The rest goes to AA.
Whenever anyone uses period blood to be provocative, the same exact argument happens in predictable order: first, there are the obvious detractors who cry that it’s disgusting!; then there are the equality warriors who cry that it’s natural, not disgusting!; last, there are the confused few who agree that it’s not really “disgusting” but there’s still the question of why?
And with that, in 3… 2… 1…