After we found several examples of professional models and others whom American Apparel misidentified in its ads as "employees," the company tried to explain the discrepancy. Their ads are probably "50%...people who work for the company in some capacity," see!
Iris Alonzo, a longtime American Apparel employee (she even features in Claudine Ko's infamous, masturbatey 2004 Jane article about the company) and a creative director who oversees the casting process, had a lengthy statement about the ways the company chooses its models. She writes,
As a creative director for American Apparel, I not only select many of our models but often shoot them myself. In the last year alone, I've photographed countless employees, friends, the winning butts from our Best Bottom Contest, fashion bloggers, two teenage lovebirds we met at our Lower Broadway store during Fashion's Night Out and of course, my dog Charlie. I'd say that 95% of the people we shoot have never been professionally photographed before, and approximately 50% of those people work for the company in some capacity.
That doesn't really explain how so gosh-darned many professional models just happen to turn up in their ads and catalogs, but at least it's an admission that the company's favorite story to tell about its ads — that they are, in the words of a statement American Apparel made just two weeks ago, "evocative because they feature real people instead of professional models" — is but a typical retailing lie. We look forward to a future devoid of misleading categorical statements about "never" using professional models to hawk American Apparel's goods!
We did find one recent ad that we believe was not made with a professional ringer. Although, these days, how can you be sure?
Meet Your New Boss [Claudine Ko]