American Apparel, the clothing company best known for ads featuring scantily clad young women, may be taking things in a new direction.
Yoel Weisshaus, a 32-year-old student at New Jersey’s Bergen Community College who was raised in Brooklyn as a Satmar Chasid, was featured this week American Apparel’s tumblr page with peyos (earlocks), a flowing beard, and traditional Chasidic fur hat.
The garments were supplied by American Apparel itself, not a typical source of Chasidic garb. Weisshaus explained that he just wore whatever fit on the day of the photo shoot. But he brought the shtreimel himself.
There is no evidence that American Apparel plans to produce a line of shtreimels, although they would certainly make a striking accompaniment to a gold lame bodysuit. (It would also go well with their signature shade of black nail polish, which is called Chassid.)
The photo shoot is not Weisshaus’s first brush with the media: He’s been featured in the New York Post and CBS News for his determined campaign to sue the Port Authority over bus fare increases. Which might explain why American Apparel described him as a “peasant with chutzpah.”
“Me having chutzpah, that is a quote from the Port Authority itself,” he told JTA. “I am a peasant because we are all peasants, here in Amerikeh. Here, we work harder than we live!”
Weisshaus said that his Satmar family, which still resides in Williamsburg, had no problem with him appearing as a model. “If they had a problem,” he said, “it’s with the other models, not me.”