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American Apparel Rebrands: Now Casting ‘Real Models’ Not ‘Instagram Hoes’

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Fashion retailer American Apparel has found itself in the center of yet another controversy, after a leaked email revealed the company is only looking to hire “real models,” rather than “Instagram hoes,” for future advertising campaigns.

The clothing merchandiser is known for its controversial and provocative ads and in the past has cast pornographic actors in several of its campaigns. Now, the apparel company is looking to reboot its brand.

“***COMPANY IS GOING THROUGH A REBRANDING IMAGE SO WILL BE SHOOTING MODELS MOVING FORWARD. REAL MODELS. NOT INSTAGRAM HOES OR THOTS,” reads the email allegedly sent from PhotoGenics, the agency delegated to cast the models. (THOT stands for “That hoe over there”)

Phira Luon, the director of PhotoGenics, has accepted responsibility for the contents found within the email and has issued an apology. she wrote to E!:

The casting email and its contents were intended for a handful of models that would be attending the casting. As with all internal company emails, it contained information that may be confidential and protected by the attorney-client and may constitute non-public information. It was intended to be conveyed only to the designated recipients in that email. Any use, dissemination, distribution, or reproduction of the message by unintended recipients is not authorized and may be unlawful.

She added: “The comment made at the end was made in jest with models whom I have a personal relationship with and did not reflect the views, or directives by the client. I apologize to all those who were offended or affected by my comments, as it was not my intention.”

Cynthia Verland, American Apparel’s senior VP of marketing, elaborated on which direction the company hopes to target while moving forward. “We are looking for real, diverse models of all shapes and sizes that look great in our clothes. This is a core part of our brand DNA,” she said.

CEO Paula Schneider told Business of Fashion that the company is aiming to be less sexual. “She doesn’t have to be overtly sexual,” she explained. “There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive. It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand.”

Schneider insisted the brand has to be a “little sexy,” given that they sell lingerie and hosiery. “You just make sure we aren’t crossing the line. It should be about empowering women, empowering people,” she concluded.

American Apparel has been surrounded by controversy in recent years, from accusations of sexual harassment to overly sexualized back-to-school ads. For a full list of company PR missteps, click here.


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