In American Apparel latest attempt to get under people’s skins, the Los Angeles-based company featured a topless model with the words, “Made in Bangladesh” written across her chest.
They aren’t referring to the woman’s barely-visible jeans, which the ad points out were made in a factory in downtown L.A. and sell for a cool $90.
The company is branding the woman herself.
The model is Maks, a merchandiser who has been working for American Apparel since 2010 and who “unreservedly” embraced the photo shoot. In a detailed description of the woman’s background, the company notes that she was in fact born in Bangladesh, in the capital city of Dhaka. Her conservative Muslim parents immigrated to Marina Del Rey, Calif., when she was four years old. She remained dedicated to her faith as a child, but began to distance herself from Islamic traditions when she started high school.
“Maks doesn’t feel the need to identify herself as an American or a Bengali and is not content to fit her life into anyone else’s conventional narrative,” the company writes. “That’s what makes her essential to the mosaic that is Los Angeles, and unequivocally, a distinct figure in the ever-expanding American Apparel family.”
The stunt is meant to draw attention to the company’s fair labor practices. American Apparel says its pays its employees “50 times more” than other companies who outsource production to countries like Bangladesh. The “23 skilled American workers” who made Maks’ jeans are “paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as health care,” according to the ad.