Swedes slam American Apparel over 'sexist' ads

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Swedes slam American Apparel over 'sexist' ads

The use of half-naked women by American Apparel to sell "unisex" shirts has sparked sexism complaints in Sweden, resulting in the US fashion retailer being reported to the country's advertising watchdog.


"I think it's totally sickening how American Apparel markets its clothes," Swedish blogger Emelie Eriksson told The Local.

"It shows they have a very degrading view toward women and I'm surprised they've been able to do this without facing any strong criticism."

IN PICTURES: How American Apparel sells its shirts

On Tuesday, Eriksson, a 24-year-old student and part-time blogger, devoted a long post on her blog, "En blommig tekopp" ('A floral teacup'), to highlight how American Apparel marketed a flannel shirt branded as "unisex".

"Unisex. UNI and SEX. What is it really about?" she asked before posting several screenshots from the American Apparel website.

While men are shown wearing the shirt in staid, unassuming poses, women are shown wearing nothing but the shirt, and often in provocative poses.

"There are hardly any men on the site without any clothes on compared to the number of nearly naked women on the site. The woman are also often in bed and look like they've just had sex."

American Apparel's marketing approach also prompted scathing reactions from Swedes on social media, with comments on links posted on Facebook ranging from a simple "Wtf" to "Oh no, this is sick. The shirt from them I'm wearing today suddenly feels kinda.... dirty."

Eriksson's page went on to detail several more pictures of a woman wearing the shirt, with her accompanying skimpy underwear eventually becoming no underwear, leaving one model's derriere in full view.

"Oh my god, it just gets worse once you click the link. No pants! How could they? What what what... I just don't get it," said one Swedish commenter on Facebook.

Other observers chose aloof sarcasm.

"A woman must always strike a semi-pornographic pose when they try on, for example, a sweatshirt. Everyone knows that," read another comment.

SEE ALSO: Five unisex trends for spring in Sweden

Eriksson told The Local she felt the way the clothes were marketed revealed American Apparel's "twisted and degrading view of women".

"They want to be seen and they know sex sells, but they don't think about how degrading these pictures are for women," she said.

A representative from the Swedish Advertising Ombudsman (Reklamombudsmannen, RO) confirmed to the Metro newspaper that the watchdog had received several complaints about American Apparel product images.

"We have received some reports," watchdog head Elisabeth Trotzig told the newspaper.

She added, however, that the matter may lie outside the ombudsman's jurisdiction as the website isn't in Swedish nor is it found within the .se domain.

A representative for American Apparel in Sweden refused to comment on the situation.

"We won't comment on this because we didn't put up the images," the spokesperson told Nyheter24, adding that any comment would come from American Apparel's head offices in Los Angeles.

David Landes

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