American Apparel jumps into the immigration debate

by Carmen Van Kerckhove

We’ve been pretty critical of American Apparel on this site for its exoticization of multiracial people, its pseudo-pornographic ads, and founder Dov Charney’s overall ickiness.

But what do you think about their latest ad campaign (click pic for full-size image), which deals with the immigration issue? From The New York Times:

…The black-and-white quarter-page advertisements show American Apparel employees of Guatemalan origin — fully clothed. The ads have run in newspapers like The Los Angeles Times and The New York Times over the last month. Like the company’s usual sexually charged ads for T-shirts and leggings, the political ad bears the imprint of Mr. Charney, himself an immigrant from Canada.

“These people don’t have freedom of mobility, they’re living in the shadows,” he said in an interview. “This is at the core of my company, at the core of my soul.”

…“Let me be clear who makes our clothes. It is a collaboration between American-born people and non-American-born people,” he said. “I don’t think supporting immigration reflects negatively on my brand, and in fact, it makes it look like we’re a responsible business.”

…Some immigration experts criticized the advertisement and said it amounted to an admission that American Apparel uses illegal immigrants.

…Mr. Charney said the company was careful to make sure that its workers presented the necessary documentation for employment.

…Mr. Charney said American Apparel’s customers appreciate the company’s views on immigration. He said his customers were “borderless.” He named the company American Apparel, rather than “USA Apparel,” he said, on purpose.

“I think my Latino workers are American workers,” he said. “They’re from the Americas. We’re all here together.”