Fast becoming a fixture in every major city in the U.K. the company’s popularity within these shores does seem to be increasing. Once a staple store for the hipster, you can’t go far without seeing a bit of lace or salt n’ pepper nowadays. Despite the apparent increase in popularity on these shores, a recent article in the Guardian suggested that the company is in danger of going under, reporting an $18 million dollar loss in the first quarter of the year.
This could maybe be explained by the brand simply falling out of fashion, but there are several other reasons I could think of. First of all is the evidence as to how the company is run. Emphasis on looks rather than skill are backed up by several current and former employees on Gawker. One states:
“Throughout my years there, I was repeatedly forced to deal with unprofessional, and unqualified corporate employees. There’s no way that these 19 year old girls had the foggiest idea how to manage entire districts of retail stores.”
Dov Charney, the man who owns the company seems a man of complete contradiction. Whilst on the one hand marketing the company as a brand which embraces equality with their ‘Legalise Gay’ and ‘Legalise L.A.’ campaigns fighting for gay marriage and an immigration amnesty respectively, he judges on an aesthetic level. Mr Charney has his ideal and is willing to employ and sack based on looks. This isn’t surprising for a man who was once quoted as saying
“You know, there are some of us that love sluts. You know…it could be also be an endearing term.”
I cannot be alone in walking into an AmApp and not enjoying the sales assistant’s icy demeanor. Before all of the guidelines for the appearance of employees got published on the internet I just thought they should loosen up, but now when you here of the stringent policies, it’s not so surprising they appear to have no job satisfaction. If you want to read the full guidelines you can find them here, but some highlights include making sure you take not wearing much make-up ‘very seriously’ and even advising against blow-drying hair because it could ’cause heat damage’.
Of course, American Apparel have released a statement denying that there is any wrong doing on their part and that “American Apparel does not hire or retain applicants based on beauty” and seeing as none of the sources are named in the articles claiming all these wrong doings (which is understandable) you can maybe say that they have been exaggerated. But I doubt it.
One thing that is accepted by everyone is that the man running the company seems to want to control every aspect of the company and feels like aesthetics will equal sales. What he hasn’t accounted for is that American Apparel is incredibly boring. And it has been for the last year.
Ad campaigns featuring Sasha Grey or some unknown 18 year old aren’t shocking anymore, even if the UK’s advertising watchdog seems to think so. The high street has caught up with the leggings and lace which formed the basis of it’s identity in the past few years. And that’s just the womenswear. I was in the shiny new store in Leeds the other day, with one rather large floor dedicated to the men, and it dawned on me that I didn’t need anything from the store. Once you’ve got your couple of hoodies, a few basic t-shirts, why would you buy anything else? Their poor attempt to go preppy with some corduroy and nautical knits doesn’t inspire you to part with your cash for this overpriced apparel.
AmApp will forever be associated with hipsters and Vice. Now, with the brand deserting them and them deserting the brand it won’t be long before Dov and his ideals go under. On one last note though, they are the best hoodies out there.
By ThomasHewetson | July 13th, 2010