Does sex still sell?

Calvin Klein’s latest advertising campaign

US clothing retailer American Apparel has been accused of using pornographic images to sell their clothes.

It didn’t take long to find examples of the images that are in question such as the landing page for their lingerie line.

American Apparel use ‘Lolita’ imagery and use models that look like teenagers to promote their clothing. Sexual imagery is used to sell the obvious ie lingerie but also innocuous items such as scarves and t-shirts.

Don’t take my word for it. Check out the images below and make sure you pay special attention to the slideshows and more views. This is where it gets really interesting:

This is not the first time that the company has come under fire. Since launching the label in 1997, Mr Dov Charney, the founder of the company, has been the subject of four sexual harassment lawsuits brought by former employees. None have been proven in court.

In 2004, an article in the now-defunct US women’s magazine, Jane, accused Mr Charney of masturbating in front of the reporter. He has never denied the allegation but said it was “consensual.”

The concept of sex used in advertising has long been utilised by designers such as Calvin Klein infamous campaign with Kate Moss and Mark Wahlberg but the latest Calvin Klein campaign depicting a threesome seems like the desperate act of an aging designer who lost his touch.

One has to question why American Apparel would use provocative images of women to sell clothes to women. All Mr Charney seems to be is a dirty old man using his power and influence who gets his kicks out of exploiting young women.

So does sex still sell or have consumers become bored by the use of sexualised images to sell clothing? Is the financial crisis forcing companies to use these more of these tactics to lure buyers or have consumers simply becoming smarter and choosing quality over quantity?

That’s the funny thing about consumers. If you’re going to use a provocative campaign to sell products, you need the quality merchandise to back it up. I’d suggest that Mr Charney would be better off focusing his efforts on producing better quality garments and using superior materials to create his clothing line.

You can choose to boycott the store as I have and/or voice your complaints via the Advertising Standards Bureau.


  1. Sara, 24 June 2009, 3:47 pm

    Pretty cool post. I just came by your site and wanted to say
    that I have really liked browsing your blog posts. Anyway
    I’ll be subscribing to your blog and I hope you post again soon!

  2. Iheartfashion, 16 July 2009, 1:17 am

    I thought you were overreacting but when I saw these images I was shocked! They are like soft porn. I’m definitely boycotting the store. The quality is crappola anyway.

  3. SamanthaH, 18 July 2009, 12:48 am

    Ewwwwwwww! What the heck??? I’ve never shopped at AA because I thought the clothes were poor quality and now I can see the advertising is in poor taste as well. These young girls are just being exploited. I don’t know how the company can get away with this. It makes me feel sick.

  4. Gillian Nalletamby, 20 July 2009, 1:20 am

    Thanks Sara, Iheartfashion and SamanthaH for your comments. To subscribe to my blog, just go to the home page and enter your address where it says “Receive notifications of new posts.”

  5. Lara_72, 29 July 2009, 1:27 pm

    This is so wrong. It is like soft porn. I have seen American Apparel advertising on so many blogs. It’s really scary. Something should be done about this. I’m definitely going to lodge a complaint to the Advertising Standards Bureau. Thanks for providing the details.


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