‘Sexist’ ads behind push for new clothing source


Scantily clad American Apparel  models from a 2011 advertisement.

Scantily clad American Apparel models from a 2011 advertisement. (courtesy Cyrill Attias)

The university will look into sourcing staff clothing from another distributor after a contract with American Apparel sparked a protest over the company’s “sexist” ads.

Ryerson’s registrar has confirmed that the school is exploring other suppliers for this year’s T-shirts, due to “an issue” with American Apparel.

Charmaine Hack, the university registrar, wrote in an email to The Ryersonian that she is “confident” the campus bookstore will be able to find a new supplier.

“The issue of American Apparel is already on their radar and we are confident in their ability to find an alternate option,” wrote Hack.

Each year, the university purchases shirts for staff members to wear during the annual Ontario Universities’ Fair. American Apparel, which previously supplied the shirts, caused an uproar among some faculty members who call the company’s advertising campaigns sexist.

More than 20 faculty had rallied against the university, gaining traction through email messages and with public complaints at the end of September and throughout October.

“It sends mixed messaging to a large demographic we have here,” said Joyce Smith, an associate professor in the journalism department.

“There is more to them (female university students) than thinking about what they look like when bent over in a short skirt.”

Smith was one of the first to voice her frustrations. After the university’s recent response to these grievances, Smith said that she wants the university to categorically refuse to buy clothing from the company.

She says she wants to hear, “No, we are not sourcing from American Apparel.

“I’d hope there was agreement on campus and from Ryerson to say we will not associate with this brand at all,” she added.

Ryerson faculty were not the only group to lobby against American Apparel and call its advertising sexist.

Last September, the U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) banned two of the AA ads from the country.

The ASA criticized the ads for being “gratuitous” and for “objectifying women.” It also called them “sexist” and “likely to cause serious and widespread offence.”

The Ryersonian has also asked for an explanation of how the university tries to source clothing ethically and affordably.

Soeun Outh, manager of student recruitment and the Ryerson employee who has taken responsibility for placing the Ontario Universities’ Fair orders, has not yet replied.

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