American Apparel has always divided people’s minds – whomever I have asked, they either loved the brand or hated it. Even more so in recent years, considering former CEO Dov Charney’s alleged misconduct. Personally, I still love American Apparel to bits and here’s why.
1 – Reasonably priced, sweatshop free basics (and more.)
I love their clothes, simple as that. I have made it a primary goal of mine to stop promoting sweatshop-made clothes and invest my time and money in fashion brands that – at least – pay their workers fair wages. A lot of people say American Apparel is way overpriced, but considering the price of the material, the hours that go into production, the cost of sales, marketing, etc. makes 50€ for a sweater or even 25€ for a t-shirt more than okay. Moreover, the people screaming too expensive the loudest are mostly the ones carrying a 350€ plastic Michael Kors bag made in China. If you think ‘value’ is defined by a big brand name on a garment, think again.
American Apparel constantly works on a more sustainable production, and I believe sustainability is key to keeping Earth the beautiful and flourishing planet it is. If you are among these people thinking AA is too expensive, maybe reconsider your buying behaviour, take a step back from fast fashion pieces that won’t even last a season (or that you won’t even like a whole season) and try to invest in higher quality, sweat-shop free clothing. By buying less, you do not only support the sustainability movement but you will also see the pleasures of a more edited wardrobe very soon: I can tell you from first-hand experience that less choice equals fewer “I have nothing to wear”-days.
2 – Their advertising campaigns.
Oh yes, their ads make feelings run higher than anything else. They’re degrading to women, a lot of people say. Are they really? A woman’s body is beautiful and AA constantly shows un-airbrushed pictures of average girls. No supermodels, no Photoshop. Isn’t that what we’re told we should aim for in fashion? American Apparel is an everyday brand of mainly cotton basics, communicating this through deliberately imperfect campaigns. From what I can tell personally, within the fashion industry, women are completely de-sexualized anyway: photo shoots are about the setting, the clothes, the lighting and the story – the woman herself (or man, if you want) is merely a dress-up doll. It’s visual art, it’s not even supposed to have anything to do with real life.
3 – Dov Charney or: Does he really ruin it all?
There are loads of people who have stopped supporting American Apparel with the surfacing of their former CEO’s alleged sexual harassment of female employees. I understand that perfectly well.
More recently, I have also heard people saying they won’t continue to shop at AA now they have fired Dov Charney, because he was the person that built the brand, made it what it is today, keeps the creative spirit alive and basically is what keeps the company running.
Both reasons to stop buying at American Apparel are very superficial. If the allegations against Charney are true – because people become crazy, people make mistakes and God knows some of them are perverts – does that obliterate the whole idea of sweatshop-free clothes, fair wages and sustainability? One bad apple doesn’t (and shouldn’t!) spoil the whole bunch. There are a lot of things going wrong in a lot of corporations, but the idea behind this very company is one I definitely aim to continue supporting.
Electric blue fluffy sweater – American Apparel
High-waist mom jeans (via ASOS) – American Apparel
Oversized camel coat (seen here) – MIIA
Silver holographic Mini-5-Zip bag – Rebecca Minkoff
Lucite heel pumps (seen here) – Miista
all pictures by Florian Topf