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Confession: The Top 10 Reasons I Hate American Apparel

Fri, Dec 3, 2010

Confessions, Personal Post

photo by acidcookie

Our contributor Abby Spector, who is majoring in Feminine/Gender/Sexuality Studies at Wesleyan University, has a confession to make:

Here are the top 10 reasons I love to hate (and hate to love) American Apparel:

  1. The newest line looks like something out of my grandmother’s closet.
  2. The models, sales people, and those who frequent the store do not smile. Ever.
  3. Are they selling nipples? That is the impression I get from their booby-slipping ads. And what about Woody Allen? They placed the iconic actor on a New York billboard without his permission. I didn’t know I could buy my very own Woody.
  4. Dear Trust Fund Yuppies, American Apparel is the Ralph Lauren of your generation. Deal with it.
  5. News Flash: You can get five V-Neck Tees in a bag from Hanes for the price of one from American Apparel.
  6. Their products may be American-made, but that doesn’t mean the company is ethical. AA has dubious hiring/firing practices involving photo shoots of potential and current employees (with many saying you can be rejected for not being attractive enough). AA has also been sued multiple times and accused of sexual harassment and cooking the books.
  7. Two words: Don Dov Charney.
  8. In New York, American Apparel is giving Starbucks a run for their money in terms of the number of branches.
  9. Dudes, you are corporate America. Stop thinking that you are better then every other chain store. It makes you look like a douche.
  10. Despite all these reasons, I still shop there, get their magazine and once asked about a job position when I saw a Help Wanted sign. (But I quickly left once I learned body piercings and tattoos were not permitted. The manager said they were going for a ‚Äúpreppier look‚ÄĚ.)

Abby Spector

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15 Responses to “Confession: The Top 10 Reasons I Hate American Apparel”

  1. Allie Says:

    First of all, it’s Dov, not Don.

    Second, if you hate it, vote with your dollars. And your time. And your efforts. Walk the walk, or don’t waste our time.

  2. Rhiannon Says:

    Thanks Allie! Took the words right out of my mouth.

  3. Amy Says:

    Haha…loved this, especially #3 and #4.

  4. Kate D. Says:

    Your argument was completely nullified by the last statement. You point out all of these problems with American Apparel, and you continue to shop there? I’m glad to see you’re so bothered by their practices, you continue happily drinking the kool-aid.

  5. Abby Says:

    I usually don’t respond to my own posts, but here I go…

    I could make a top ten list of reasons why I hate every clothing chain. The stereotypes they project, the unethical steps involved in the creation and distribution, the outrageous prices. But I don’t stop shopping. Chances are, you don’t stop shopping either. We all can make an effort to buy responsibly, but at the end of the day, how many of your tags say “Made In China”?

    My issue with American Apparel hits a more personal note. It takes me back to middle school. American Apparel (and everything it represents) are the soccer girls. This flock of preteens made me miserable. They bullied, lied, fought and caused more tears at dances then first periods and embarrassing chaperones combined. I knew they were evil. However, this didn’t stop me from buying a five-sizes too small Limited Too bra or trying to gel back my naturally kinky hair into a smooth pony-tail. They were cool. I wanted to look like the cool kids.

    In many ways, following modern fashion trends is just a more grown-up way of saying that you want to look like the cool kids. Hipster American Apparel Folks are, in my liberal arts corner of the world, the “cool kids”. I try to brush off my adolescent instinct, but it haunts me.

    Truth is, a part of me still want to fit in with the cool crowd. Tiger-print unitards and all.

  6. lea Says:

    actually, it’s doV charney.

  7. Allie Says:

    A couple of ideas to break the shopping habit:

    1. Organize clothing swaps with friends and co-workers. New wardrobe, no cost, and you would be surprised at how lots of women with different body types, styles, and coloring can easily exchange clothing and accessories.
    2. Shop at used clothing stores like Goodwill, Plato’s Closet, Red Light, or Buffalo Exchange/
    3. Re-purpose your own wardrobe by mending or altering existing items.
    4. Get over your “adolescent instincts” and avoid treating those issues with “retail therapy.” Find other ways to heal the hurt. Yes, we all have some items that say “made in China” and even if they were hand-made in China by fairly-paid artisans, they had to be shipped over here with fossil fuels, etc. However, if you really have an problem with a particular brand’s ethics or a particular government’s politics, you CAN avoid directly supporting them even if it is hard at first.

  8. Abby Says:

    Part two of my response….

    I recognize it isn’t healthy to buy into what’s cool. But I’m a 21-year-old human being who still has fears, concerns and anxieties. American Apparel seemed like a unthreatening example of how our desire to be cool doesn’t disappear with adolescence.

    Thanks for the correction with Dov and Don. That was a mistake and we are on fixing it.

    Last thing, the reason I looked for a job was because the economy sucks. I needed to pay for rent. All Help Wanted signs were appealing, even those involved with corporate america.

  9. lilly Says:

    I am one of those stories from dubious hire/fire case you mentioned. I was also harassed repeatedly by Dov. The company is disgusting, and if I hadn’t signed a contract saying I wouldn’t sue them (yeah, when you get hired, they prepare you for this…or rather they prepare themselves) , I’d fucking sue them.

  10. Jai Says:

    And one reason to love it… Denni at ChicMuse

  11. Jess Says:

    Seriously took the words right out of my mouth. But still… I have an overpriced v-neck from there that is just SO comfy..

  12. Renee Says:

    Allie, stfu bitch.
    You’re just pissed because you support a totally shitty company and are embarrassed to do so.
    shallow whore.

  13. bosh Says:

    in response to the critique of abby recognizing the problems with american apparel and shopping there, i want to add some analysis to the self righteous comments posted above.

    one the one hand, it is SUPER important to make sure your personal daily life practices such as shopping, eating, traveling etc give with your ethics. and I TOTALLY AGREE that if you are going to shop, you should be as INFORMED as possible about where you buy your clothing, food, etc. it’s important to think about your own health, worker rights of employees, animal rights, the environment, etc – pick your issue, most companies are hiding myriad violations.

    on the other hand, it’s no one’s place to tell someone else to literally stop participating in shopping all together – that is a totally classist attitude implying the time and resources to spend 4 hours a day mending, refurbishing and swapping with your friends. for everyone so self-righteously telling abby not to shop at american apparel, it’s totally unreasonable to tell busy, hard working people not to shop at all, and a lot of them/us don’t have the resources to seek out worker-owned clothing especially because ONLY A FEW OF THOSE COMPANIES EXIST THE WORLD OVER.

    social change, revolution, etc are NEVER going to be gained by fucking changing where you shop. it’s a start, but it’s so incredibly incomplete as a method of resistance or change that you can’t reasonably talk about it with so much self satisfaction. “BUYING OUT WAY OUT OF CAPITALISM” is a contradiction in terms.

    turn your anger toward COMPANIES, toward CAPITALISM, toward inequality and injustice instead of harassing a potential ALLY like abby for being honest about liking fashion and the shopping habits she keeps. or maybe you should turn your critique inward and do some introspection, because you need to be brought up short about your politics if freaking CONSUMER ACTIVISM is what you’re promoting.

  14. bosh Says:

    so….in response to the critique of abby recognizing the problems with american apparel and shopping there, i want to add some analysis to the self righteous comments posted above.

    one the one hand, it is SUPER important to make sure your personal daily life practices such as shopping, eating, traveling etc give with your ethics. and I TOTALLY AGREE that if you are going to shop, you should be as INFORMED as possible about where you buy your clothing, food, etc. it’s important to think about your own health, worker rights of employees, animal rights, the environment, etc – pick your issue, most companies are hiding myriad violations.

    on the other hand, it’s no one’s place to tell someone else to literally stop participating in shopping all together – that is a totally classist attitude implying the time and resources to spend 4 hours a day mending, refurbishing and swapping with your friends. for everyone so self-righteously telling abby not to shop at american apparel, it’s totally unreasonable to tell busy, hard working people not to shop at all, and a lot of them/us don’t have the resources to seek out worker-owned clothing especially because ONLY A FEW OF THOSE COMPANIES EXIST THE WORLD OVER.

    social change, revolution, etc are NEVER going to be gained by fucking changing where you shop. it’s a start, but it’s so incredibly incomplete as a method of resistance or change that you can’t reasonably talk about it with so much self satisfaction. “BUYING OUT WAY OUT OF CAPITALISM” is a contradiction in terms.

    turn your anger toward COMPANIES, toward CAPITALISM, toward inequality and injustice instead of harassing a potential ALLY like abby for being honest about liking fashion and the shopping habits she keeps. or maybe you should turn your critique inward and do some introspection, because you need to be brought up short about your politics if freaking CONSUMER ACTIVISM is what you’re promoting.

  15. Zyx Says:

    Don’t support them or you’re helping support Charney’s sexual harassment and worse. They’re now another chain shop like Starbucks. Charney hates unions. They’re trying to be classic prep now and if you really want to go that style, it’s better to go with the originals. J Crew, Sprerry Topsiders, classic Polo and Lacoste. The price you’ll pay for those vintage may be the same or slightly more than AA’s copies. It’s more fun looking for vintage clothes or going to places that aren’t staffed entirely by the perfect AA-approved hipster (and Charney did require store managers to send him group photos of their staff to have them fire those he deemed did not look cool or good looking enough, f*cking lame).


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