Please visit the Fall 2012 class website project at Queer Arts Los Angeles Website.

Monday, November 12, 2012

"Undocumented Apparel"

American Apparel Spring 2012 campaign. 
The second work of Julio Salgado's that I chose to profile is one of his most popular: the Undocumented Apparel mock-up campaign. Like the majority of Julio's work, this piece is one of several that were done in response to racism and Latina/o fetishism. American Apparel's "California" campaign featured a white college student modeling a new accessory: a Mexican farmworker. 
The use of the Mexican farmworker was deeply problematic for Julio. As an aside, campaigns such as these seek to capitalize on images to attract more revenue, often at the expense of marginalized identities. The use of "Raul" the farmworker was not just to create a false sense of community between him and a young hypersexualized woman, it was done to attract positive publicity or its "support" of farmworker labor. Julio's pieces which imitated the aesthetics of the original campaign gathered attention from several major news outlets, one among them the news website Colorlines In the article discussing this piece Julio speaks on his thoughts about the American Apparel image: 
“My first thought was, this is so unrealistic,” says Salgado. “I did construction work for a couple of summers while I was in college, and I worked with guys who looked like that - you know, day laborers. And that image in the ad brought me back to one time when we were working on a hotel, putting in tile. Women who look like that model were walking by, and would pass by and totally not pay attention to us, would ignore us. The reality is, people like that usually are ignored." 

By creating his own mock-up campaign, Julio was able to provide what the original campaign did not; a platform for the voices of those who were misrepresented in American Apparel's original. Julio's artivism features real undocumented immigrants and their own statements and stories. Telling the real, purposefully uncomfortable truth that the original ad campaign chose to erase. 

Julio's Colorlines interview + article:


  1. Wow, I have never seen this picture. I don't even know what to say I want to laugh at the absurdity of this image. When I think of American Apparel I think a White brand, a brand like many others that are symbolic of Western culture. To have this Latino in the image is so surreal, and it feels like a mockery especially because of the heading "California" in bold black letters. American Apparel is intentionally portraying a stereotypical picture of what California is like a bunch of "immigrant laborers" and privileged white girls. My understanding of Salgado's photo is appropriation of the Latina/o culture at best.

  2. Wow that’s interesting I had no idea that American Apparel went as far as modeling a Mexican farm worker as an accessory! That is enraging! How is that still allowed? Julio Salgado did an awesome job by creating his own mock-up campaign to represent the voices missing in American Apparel add(s). I like that he chose to include peoples stories and included their names. I especially like that he calls out the people who think backpacking across Europe is “adventurous” and praised for it. It’s interesting how backpacking is seen as dangerous therefore deemed “cool” and acceptable while people who cross the border are deemed as criminal that should be punished. Many Latinos cross with out that backpack and only the clothes on their back!
    I think that even if a white or privileged person crossed the border as an experiment, they would be praised for doing it and the same people praising would not acknowledge the everyday folk that do it for survival.
    I’m glad artists like Julio Salgado are there to provide a different and positive perspective that provides a call for social justice in this world.

  3. I have to agree with the 2 comments above and with the original post as well. It is extremely frusatrating to see that exploitation and mockery towards the latino culture continues to this day. It is totally disrespectful to perceive our culture as just a commodity or an "accessory", especially when latino workers are most likely the ones in sweatshops sewing the clothes on that models back. I applaud Julio Salgado for his response to the ad, it is blunt and depicts exactly how any person of color would feel. People fail to realize the hard work that is done every single day by workers like the one in the ad and every day it goes unnoticed, just like Salgado mentions. And if people think that showcasing them in a clothing ad will do them justice, then that just leaves little hope for society.