5 Ways American Apparel Was Ahead of Its Time

American Apparel always seemed to have some controversy surrounding them, but you can’t deny that they made some damn good basics.

Now that they’re gone, we can’t help but feel a little sad that we can no longer count on them for having thotty bodysuits in every color of the rainbow when we need them.

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But even if you didn’t love American Apparel’s merch, or you thought they were overpriced, or you were too grossed out by the creepy allegations against Dov Charney, there’s no denying that they were actually way ahead of the times in so many different things aesthetically.

From their butt obsession to their age-posi and body-posi models, look at these ads from the early 2000s and prepare to be amazed.

1. Their Butt Obsession Started Early

J. Lo used to be the only “cool” butt on the block of mainstream culture. Now, butts are cooler than boobs (at least according to Vogue), and they’re everywhere. But before Kimmy K started the butt brigade and the wedgie bikini became hot, American Apparel was already promoting butts (and looking for the best one).



2. They Used Customer Content As Ads

You’ve probably noticed that all of your fashion-y friends tag the brands they’re wearing in their Instagram posts. It’s not because they’re sponsored by that brand, it’s because they’re hoping the brand will re-blog their picture on their own page and they’ll be blessed with tons of new followers. Today, tons of brands use customer-created content, but a few years ago, nobody did — except American Apparel.

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They consistently put out ads like the one above searching for new models, and regularly were known for approaching customers in the store and asking them if they wanted to model. Back in the day, they even had a “submissions” tab on their site.

3. They Were Body Posi Before Everyone Else Hopped On

Today, brands get called out for not using body-posi and racially diverse models, but American Apparel was using all types of models before anyone knew what “body-posi” even meant. In fact, people seemed to think their ads were too sexy and exploitative. We can’t help but wonder why people never said the same things about similarly provocative ads featuring thinner bodies.

Anyway, can you believe this curvalicious one is from 2006?


4. They Put Diversity Front and Center

Their clothes may have been made in the USA, but not all their models were — or their employees!


4. They Were Age-Posi

This set of ads from 2012 featured a much older model (she was 62 at the time), proving you don’t need to be a teenager to thot around in some cute undies!

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5. They Were Thot Positive

Sure, the owner may or may not have been skeevy, but the models in these pics — some of whom were also porn stars — were clearly down to model in their undies, or topless, or whatever.

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Some photos have a creepy male-gaze, but others, like the one below, have models staring straight in the camera and embracing their hotness. It’s scandy, but it was a nice change from the smiling and clean-cut Delia*s models of the day. And side note: this ad proudly proclaims that the model is 150 lbs!


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