American Apparel wins cheers, jeers for 62-year-old lingerie model

American Apparel (APP) isn’t a stranger to whipping up controversy over its advertising. Usually, though, the hullaballoo is over its racy depictions of young women, not a 62-year-old, grey-haired model. 

The brand has tapped sexagenarian model Jacky O’Shaughnessy to model its lingerie, giving her the tagline, “Sexy has no expiration date.” 

The photo depicts O’Shaughnessy in a blue lace bra and red panties, sitting in a relaxed pose in an empty white room. The photo isn’t what one would call racy, but yet it’s clearly shocked some consumers, who have written negative comments on American Apparel’s Facebook page. One unimpressed consumer wrote, “Not appealing at all.”

American Apparel didn’t immediately return a request for comment. 

One of the biggest shocks may be simply seeing an older model in an advertisement, especially one for a youth-focused clothing company. Madison Avenue rarely depicts grey-haired actors or models in clothing or fashion advertisements. Yet O’Shaughnessy, a member of the baby boomer generation, is part of a generation with massive buying power.

Just five percent of advertising dollars are targeted to adults between 35 to 64 years old, Advertising Age notes, citing a demographic that also includes some Gen-Xers. Baby boomers have $3 trillion in buying power, and yet depictions of older Americans are typically relegated to age-related advertisements for a pharmaceutical or health product. 

American Apparel has used Shaughnessy before, in a series of ads in 2012 that depicted her fully dressed, the Daily Mail notes. 

Still, for every negative comment on American Apparel’s Facebook page, there were several positive remarks, such as one woman who wrote, “I am thrilled and encouraged to see a ‘real’ woman, an example of beauty and strength for women of all ages.”