Clothing brand American Apparel is gearing up for the whirlwind that is Black Friday, however, they are facing some scrutiny for their specially-made employee shirts that make some disturbing implications.
Their shirts read, “Ask me to take it all off,” which can be interpreted offensively and some employees reportedly said it made them feel like they were being sexualized to sell a product, Mic reports.
According to an email sent out to American Apparel employees shared by The Mary Sue, employees were told the shirts were optional but were “highly encouraged” to participate.
An employee reportedly confirmed the legitimacy of the email to Jezebel and said they had fears of employees being sexually harassed while wearing the shirt.
"Now they are actively encouraging our patrons to sexually harass me and my colleagues, some of whom are as young as 15," the employee reportedly told Jezebel. "There's no question in my mind that anyone wearing the shirt will face inappropriate comments from customers."
The company is no stranger to using sexual innuendo as a marketing tactic. "The company seemed to be moving in a direction with less gross sexual innuendo, but recently I've noticed a lot more sexually explicit shots in some of our visual merchandising props," the source said.
After firing its founder, Dov Charney, as CEO last year for alleged misconduct and sexual harassment, one would think the company would stick to its pledge to do away with all the sexual marketing, but alas these shirts say otherwise.
Upon receiving criticism, the slogan has been discontinued according to a statement released by a company spokesperson.
“This slogan on these tee shirts – which were distributed to both male and female employees as optional – was originally intended to be a play on words to engage customers during our Black Friday Sale, which features an additional 50 percent off items that are already marked down 50 percent. We understand that this offended an individual employee who spoke up about his / her concerns. American Apparel is a company that values free speech, and most importantly, creating an environment where employees feel valued, protected, and safe. As such, we have decided to discontinue this slogan and will seek other ways to stay creative and push the envelope, which is part of our brand DNA.”
To be fair, the statement only directly refers to the single employee who spoke out against the shirts…but we’re willing to bet there were plenty of others who agreed but weren’t bold enough to say anything.
Furthermore, pointing out that the shirts were distributed to both male and female employees doesn't make it more acceptable — no one should be made to feel objectified at all, but especially not in the workplace.
Would you take an employee wearing that shirt seriously?
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