Controversial US retailer American Apparel has once again flouted advertising regulations with images of women in vulnerable poses "likely to cause serious offence" to visitors to its website, a watchdog has ruled.

The clothing brand has regularly broken advertising rules for using exploitative images of young women.

Recently the brand posted six photos of a model in a bodysuit and thigh-high socks on a bed without her face shown, from the front showing her legs open or in a kneeling or reclining position.

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Part of the advert showing a model in a body suit and thigh-high socks

Others, which carried text saying the model was a store consultant, showed her wearing only a jumper while her bottom half appeared naked, reclining on a bed with her legs in the air.

american apparel

American Apparel advert showing a half-naked model

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) investigated a complaint that the models appeared vulnerable and the ads were offensive because they were overtly sexual and objectified women.

Responding to the complaint, American Apparel said it "did its best" to abide by the standards of the industry as well as creating "authentic, honest and memorable images" relevant to its customer base.

See also: Harvey Nichols 'Lesbian Kiss' Ad Cleared After Complaints Made On Religious Grounds

The ASA noted that the first ad did not show the model's face and emphasised her groin, buttocks and breasts, although they were covered.

It said: "Although we considered it was reasonable for ads for hosiery to feature women in limited clothing, we considered the images and the model's poses were gratuitous. We considered the images were overtly sexual and that they demeaned women by emphasising the model's groin, buttocks and breasts and by not including her face."

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Regarding the second ad, it said: "We considered the image to be gratuitous, particularly in an ad for knitwear. We also considered the model's facial expression appeared blank, if not unsure, and were concerned that she appeared vulnerable. We considered the image was overtly sexual."

The ASA concluded: "We considered there was a voyeuristic quality to the images, which served to heighten the impression that the women were vulnerable and in sexually provocative poses. For the reasons given, we considered the ads were likely to cause serious offence to visitors to American Apparel's website. We concluded that they breached the code."

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It ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form and told American Apparel to ensure that its future advertising contained nothing which was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

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