American Apparel in trouble over immigration and ‘provocative’ ad

American Apparel

Dov Charney’s LA-based clothing company loses 1,600 staff and sees yet another advert banned

BY Eliot Sefton LAST UPDATED AT 13:44 ON Thu 3 Sep 2009

Dov Charney, the controversial chief executive of clothing line American Apparel, is in trouble again. In the same week that a "provocative" ad campaign for the brand was banned in Britain, the company has been forced to sack more than a tenth of its US workforce because of immigration problems.

As many as 1,600 staff in Los Angeles have been laid off because they were unable to prove their immigration status or fix problems with their employment records. Many were unauthorised to work in the US and some were found to be using fake social security numbers.
 
Charney said he was "deeply saddened" at having to let staff go. In a letter he said: "I just cry when I think that so many people will be leaving the company... It is my belief that immigrants bring prosperity to any economy."
 
Earlier this week, American Apparel was ordered by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) to withdraw its latest advert, which ran in the British magazine Vice, because it appeared to show an underage model stripping off for a photographer.

In fact the model was a 23-year-old, but the fact that she looked "young and vulnerable" and appeared to be "stripping off for an amateur-style photo shoot" was enough to get it banned. "Because the ad could be seen to sexualise a model who appeared to be a child, under the age of 16 years, we concluded that it was inappropriate and could cause serious offence to some readers," the ASA said.
 
It is by no means the first first time Charney has been in hot water over marketing. Previous ads, often featuring members of staff rather than professional models, have been deemed unduly provocative and earlier this year he was forced to pay Woody Allen $5m in an out-of-court settlement for using his images, without permission, in a series of posters.
 
Charney has been the subject of several, unproven, sexual harassment suits and claims to have been victimised by the media in the past. He said that he used Woody Allen in his company's ads because he wanted to draw attention to the way he and Allen - both high-profile Jews - had been treated.

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