03/25/2015 01:18 pm ET | Updated Mar 25, 2015

American Apparel Casting Call Says 'Instagram Hoes' Not Welcomed

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A leaked email for an American Apparel casting call said no "Instagram hoes" are welcomed, according to reports.

While the casting agency took full responsibility for the email, the revelation comes as American Apparel tries to move past previous controversies, as well as the firing of founder Dov Charney in December amid sexual misconduct allegations.

Animal NewYork obtained the email sent by casting agent Photogenics that called for models to attend the March 18 call at American Apparel's Los Angeles office. "Company is going through a rebranding image so will be shooting models moving forward. Real models. Not Instagram hoes or THOTS," read the message, written in all caps. (THOT is an acronym for "that hoe over there.")

In a statement, Photogenics agency Director Phira Luon, who reportedly wrote the email, told Animal the note was intended only for a few who would be attending. "The comment made at the end was made in jest with models whom i have a personal relationship with and did not reflect the views, or directives by the client. i apologize to all those who were offended or affected by my comments, as it was not my intention."

Luon also addressed the email in the New York Post, calling it “an inappropriate, off-color joke that was not intended to defame the client’s name or philosophy/views in any way.”

Cynthia Erland, American Apparel's senior vice president of marketing, also emphasized to The Huffington Post in a statement that the email neither came from American Apparel nor represented its values.

"It's just completely false that American Apparel is only using professional models, and we have had and continue to have public casting calls on our calendar," she said. "We continue to look for diverse models of all sizes and backgrounds that look great in our clothes, and these open casting calls play a key role. Suggestions to the contrary are the result of an email written by a non-American Apparel employee that does not reflect our company's beliefs in any way, and they have since apologized for writing it."

As Design & Trend notes, American Apparel has used amateur models in suggestive ads in the past. After new CEO Paula Schneider was hired in December, some wondered if the brand was going to tone things down.

This article was updated with a response from American Apparel's Cynthia Erland.


  • 1 Its CEO Has Been Repeatedly Accused Of Sexual Harassment
    American Apparel CEO Dov Charney has faced multiple accusations of unwanted sexual conduct, including accusations that he forced an employee to perform oral sex and kept one employee as a sex slave. According to American Apparel spokesman Peter Schey, Charney is currently involved with four sexual harassment suits that the company believes "have no merit." Charney told CNBC that such lawsuits are "a testimony to my success."
  • 2 It Was Sued For Allegedly Firing A Cancer Patient
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    American Apparel was sued in 2010 for allegedly terminating an employee who was undergoing cancer treatment, CBS Los Angeles reports. The company settled the lawsuit for $60,000 in 2011, according to Daily News. Spokesman Peter Schey told HuffPost that American Apparel "agreed to intensify its training about the requirements of the Americans With Disabilities Act" following the the settlement, and now "has a policy that goes above and beyond what the law requires with regards to accommodating people with disabilities."
  • 3 Its Employees Are Allegedly Hired And Fired Based On How Hot They Are
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    American Apparel hires workers only after taking a full-body photograph of them and has faced accusations that it only hires the best looking candidates, Gawker reports. Likewise, CEO Dov Charney reportedly personally went through photos of store employees and requested that any "ugly people" be let go, according to one store manager. For its part, American Apparel says its policy is to hire workers who are knowledgable about its products.
  • 4 A Factory Worker Died On The Job
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    In 2011, garment worker Tuan Phan was killed by a circular knitting machine at one of American Apparel's factories. Calling the incident a "freak accident," American Apparel spokesman Peter Schey said "the company immediately took steps to avoid this type of terrible accident ever happening again," adding it is "fully committed to worker health and safety."
  • 5 Its Been Accused Of Racism
    American Apparel paid out over $300,000 in damages after a worker sued for being called "n****r" by his superior repeatedly, Gawker reports. The company has also been accused of profiling customers, running racist ads and making racially insensitive products. "Under no circumstances does the company think racial slurs are appropriate," Peter Schey told HuffPost.
  • 6 Its Ads Get Banned... A Lot
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    American Apparel's racy ads have been banned repeatedly for showing nudity, supposedly being exploitative and sexualizing child models.
  • 7 It Almost Went Bankrupt
    American Apparel has been flirting with bankruptcy since 2010, coming especially close in the spring of 2011 after losing around $86 million. Despite calls for the company to outsource production due to the financial strife, it remained committed to "domestic production, fair wages [and] positive working conditions," according to American Apparel's Peter Schey. An $80 million credit infusion from billionaire George Soros in 2012, however, appears to have put the clothing company on more solid financial footing.
  • 8 Its CEO Allegedly Throws Dirt At People
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    A 2012 lawsuit brought by former employee Michael Bumblis accused CEO Dov Charney of throwing dirt at a store manager and calling him a "fag" and a "wanna be Jew," The Huffington Post reports. "Dov Charney and witnesses deny that Charney ever assaulted or rubbed dirt in Mr. Bumblis's face," spokesman Peter Schey told HuffPost. "Mr. Bumblis sued only after being terminated for cause (after numerous warnings about his conduct before and after the alleged dirt-throwing incident)."
  • 9 It Apparently Can't Take A Joke
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    In 2011, America Apparel ran a contest called "The Next Big Thing," which sought a plus-size model for its new larger line of clothing. Nancy Upton's collection of ironic photos for the contest was the popular winner but American Apparel chose not to give her the top prize because of her "attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge," a spokesperson wrote at the time.
  • 10 It Unknowingly Hired Unauthorized Workers
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    American Apparel was forced to fire 1,800 employees after a federal audit unveiled irregularities in the documents immigrant workers provided American Apparel in order to get hired, The New York Times reports. "We interviewed every worker one by one to ensure that we were absolutely certain that we didn't terminate anyone who had a right to be here," American Apparel's Peter Schey told HuffPost.