American Apparel has once again landed in hot water with UK regulators after running a series of digital ads of scantily clad women, one of which appeared to sexualise a model who appeared to be under 16 years old.The controversial US retailer, which has regularly broken advertising rules for using exploitative images of young women, posted a series of ads on its website promoting two lines of clothing – tights and a range of coloured T-shirts.
Both campaigns provoked complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA received two complaints about the online images of young women modelling T-shirts – in which it was possible to see the breasts of the girls through the shirts – that they were offensive, irresponsible and overtly sexual and should not be displayed on a website children could access.
The ASA also received a complaint from a woman who had wanted to look at the online ads for American Apparel’s tights with her 12-year old daughter, but found that the images – which featured women wearing almost nothing bar high denier tights – were “unnecessarily sexual and inappropriate for a website that could be seen by children”.
American Apparel said the ads of young girls in T-shirts were “completely decent and a fair representation of their product”.
In its ruling the ASA said that one of the models used looked under the age of 16 and that “because her breasts were visible through her shirt, we considered the images could be seen to sexualise a model who appeared to be a child”.
Of the T-shirt campaign as a whole the ASA said that the images were sexually provocative, irresponsible and “likely to cause widespread offence, because they were displayed on a website which could be viewed by, and was likely to have appeal to, children under 16 years of age”.
American Apparel argued it was “standard practice” to market hosiery and lingerie in the way it had done and added that children could access any website they wanted.
The ASA said that the ads were variously “sexually suggestive, gratuitous and flirtatious” and inappropriate in an ad for tights on a website accessible by children. It banned three of the 23 ads used on the website to promote tights.
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This article originally appeared on guardian.co.uk
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