"The American Apparel clothing chain has been warned against using exploitative images of women after a watchdog ruled a series of ads were likely to cause 'serious and widespread offence'.
Eight ads on the retailer’s website and in a free magazine in October showed women modelling knickers, socks and sweaters in various poses that exposed their breasts or buttocks.
One showed a woman arching her back towards the camera with her breasts exposed, others showed models lying face down or on their side revealing buttocks and breasts while more images were of models with their legs apart while on a bed.
One person complained that the images were pornographic, exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.
American Apparel rejected the complaint, saying the images featured 'real, non-airbrushed, everyday people', and that the vast majority of them were not professional models.
They said the images were the sort that people regularly shared with their friends on social networks and which normal people could relate to.
The retailer added that the women who featured in the images were clearly in their twenties, and emphasised that they were 'happy, relaxed and confident in expression and pose' and were not portrayed in a vulnerable, negative or exploitative manner.
Defending the campaign, American Apparel told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that it believed it was 'important to judge what was and was not offensive by reference to the current times and the views of the majority of decent and reasonable people, not a small and puritanically-minded minority'.
Upholding the complaint for all but one of the images, the ASA acknowledged ads for lingerie were reasonable to feature women in limited amounts of clothing, but the nature of the women’s poses meant that their breasts and buttocks were the focal points rather than the products.
The ASA said: 'We considered that in the particular context of images which featured nudity and sexually provocative poses, there was a voyeuristic and ‘amateurish’ quality to the images which served to heighten the impression that the ads were exploitative of women and inappropriately sexualised young women.