Over the past few months, American Apparel has kept up their tradition of keeping us on our toes, whether it be their foxy 62-year-old lingerie model or window mannequins adorned with some very unapologetic bush. They certainly weren’t going to quit while they were ahead, and their latest offering will certainly raise eyebrows as intended. Their newest ad stars Bangladesh-born Maks, a merchandiser who has worked at American Apparel since 2010. She appears topless with the words “Made In Bangladesh,” printed across her chest. The text that accompanies the image tells her story:
She is a merchandiser who has been with American Apparel since 2010. Born in Dhaka, the capitol of Bangladesh, Maks vividly remembers attending mosque as a child alongside her conservative Muslim parents. At age four, her family made a life changing move to Marina Del Rey, California. Although she suddenly found herself a world away from Dhaka, she continued following her parent’s religious traditions and sustained her Islamic faith throughout her childhood. Upon entering high school, Maks began to feel the need to forge her own identity and ultimately distanced herself from Islamic traditions. A woman continuously in search of new creative outlets, Maks unreservedly embraced this photo shoot.
She has found some elements of Southern California culture to be immediately appealing, but is striving to explore what lies beyond the city’s superficial pleasures. She doesn’t feel the need to identify herself as an American or a Bengali and is not content to fit her life into anyone else’s conventional narrative. That’s what makes her essential to the mosaic that is Los Angeles, and unequivocally, a distinct figure in the ever expanding American Apparel family. Maks was photographed in the High Waist Jean, a garment manufactured by 23 skilled American workers in Downtown Los Angeles, all of whom are paid a fair wage and have access to basic benefits such as healthcare.
Since the campaign is brand new, we have yet to see its ripple effect, but we’re definitely forecasting outrage amongst the traditional Muslim population due to her state of undress. This, even in spite of the rise of Islamic feminism. We’ll keep you updated.