The Official Student Newspaper of Calvin College Since 1907
April 23, 2010
Volume 104, Issue 26
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Pornographic apparel?

I believe American Apparel, a well-known clothing company, of which Calvin is a frequent customer, has committed a major fashion faux pas. Let me explain myself: I was casually talking with some friends this past week who are part of a student organization that is planning on buying T-shirts from American Apparel. I immediately applauded them for choosing to go with the fair trade option. Then that they told me “Don’t ever go to American Apparel’s website, though ... it’s almost pornographic.” That sentence surprised me. I had to check out their website for myself to see, since I own several American Apparel T-shirts that Calvin has purchased, and since I recently had a friend admit to me that he was addicted to pornography that he had been viewing while at Calvin. What I found on their website troubled me. Someone looking at the website’s main page to navigate to their T-shirt section is subjected to viewing see-through clothing on sexually posed models and women lying on beds in nothing more than transparent lacy bras and thongs. 

I’m saddened knowing that Calvin has been and is continuing to support American Apparel and other companies whose visions of fair trade clothing and environmental awareness are spot on, yet whose advertising completely misses the mark.Although Calvin’s BESS System filters block many pornographic sites, websites like American Apparel’s that do not receive blocks unless prompted by Calvin students.

Due to such a request, American Apparel’s site will be blocked by the filter. I understand that this will affect student organizations that regularly purchase from American Apparel’s catalog, but I hope that it can be a positive step for the college to work toward partnering with local businesses and companies whose values mesh with Calvin’s instead of those who use sex to sell. 

In the future, I would like to buy from American Apparel again, but not until they change their advertising tactics. I am taking steps to let American Apparel know that Calvin disagrees with their advertising and that they are at risk of losing our business all together unless they change. Strength in numbers produces change, so I would like to challenge every student organization or impassioned student to thoughtfully consider writing e-mails or letters to American Apparel. If they start losing business, they will have to answer to the outcries of the public. As a student on Senate and Orientation Board, I am making sure that organizations no longer support American Apparel or any other company whose raunchy advertising schemes negatively outweigh the positive aspects of their businesses.

We cannot, as Christians, let companies like American Apparel cause our fellow brothers and sisters to stumble. It is my goal to partner with surrounding Christian colleges (Aquinas, Hope, Cornerstone) in writing letters of complaint to send in mass and in petitioning the company’s advertising techniques.  

Democracy Matters and Student Senate are partnering together to make the campus aware of the issue and to get student organizations and students to sign a petition saying that they will cease to buy products from American Apparel until they change their advertising techniques.

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