American Apparel ad “sexualises” children

A magazine ad for fashion retailer American Apparel has been slammed by the Advertising Standards Authority for sexualising children.

American Apparel

The watchdog banned the ad, which featured a half-naked young-looking girl in a number of poses, because it could be seen to “sexualise a model who appeared to be a child under the age of 16”.

As a result, the ASA concluded that the advertisement “could cause serious offence to some readers”.

“While the ad depicted only partial nudity, we considered that the images were provocative with the model exposing progressively more skin in each photo in the series,” the watchdog says.

American Apparel says the model was 23 and disagreed that she looked under 16. The retailer argued that the ads did not portray the model as a “sex object” and were not “negative or exploitative”.

The ASA did not uphold a separate complaint that the ad should not have appeared on the back of a free magazine, Vice, that could be seen by children.

The watchdog concluded that Vice’s distribution meant it was unlikely to be seen by children.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here