Wednesday, November 23

Like Fashion Photography by Larry Clark

BrandChannel recently did a write-up on hot clothing label American Apparel, describing their ad campaigns as "near amateur pornography" wrapped in "socially responsible" camoflague:

To look at an American Apparel catalog or ad is to look at the closest thing there is to amateur porn without it actually being amateur porn (though it may qualify as fetish photography and certainly flirts with being lecherously barely-legal). If Victoria's Secret is the closest the apparel industry has to mainstream, overproduced, surgically-enhanced porn, then American Apparel is its raw, posed-to-not-look-posed, seemingly inexperienced but no-less-erotic amateur cousin. With emphasis on the prurience of voyeuristic reality, AA ads feature "real women" [and guys] -- sometimes in bathtubs or beds -- but always in intimate conduct. As has been forever said about sex: it sells. In finding a unique way to be sexy, American Apparel found a new way to sell.

Point taken, but I wouldn't say that American Apparel has discovered anything new. AA's spreads owe a lot to Larry Clark's controversial photography, Fiona Apple's 1996 "Criminal" video or even infamous 1995 "kiddie porn" ad campaign by Calvin Klein.