I love American Apparel. I shouldn’t because it clearly is not aimed at the over 30s. It’s for young lithe people with long glossy hair. Which reminds me: Where are all the UK fashion bloggers over 30? I’ve been doing some searching this week. Loads in the US, loads of great 40+, but UK 30+ fashion bloggers and especially late 30s fashion bloggers, not so much. What gives?
Back to American Apparel. In my defense I don’t own any of their disco leggins or spangly hot pants. If I were 20 I definitely would and I’d wear the satin hot pants daily, but I’m not and one’s gots to draw the line somewhere. Never the less, I am still a big fan of their unisex brightly coloured hoodies, socks, undies and long sleeved basics.
Garmets are well made, sweat shop free and wash well. Plus, I discovered this morning that they do a canine range. Not that I dress Cuba unless it’s super cold (small dogs do require an extra layer when it gets damp and frosty in the mornings), but if I did he would probably wear American Apparel.
American Apparel are an interesting brand I’ve been thinking quite a bit about in my academic writing lately.
De-fetishisation explores how contemporary brands make use of public attitudes towards consumption by making their labour practices explicit in what Littler and Moor (2008) argue in a case study about American Apparel is a fetish for de-fetishisation. By this they mean that if the fetishism of commodities involves obscuring labour practices, de-fetishisation is a contemporary re-working where labour practice are overtly communicated and built into the brand experience. One way this is achieved is by focusing on the biographies of employees or sharing information to consumers about where materials are sourced from and how products are made, to reassure consumers that products are produced ethically and responsibly. You can take a virtual tour of the factory and see exactly what is going on in each room by clicking on the window. Kinda cool.
 Since the publication of Moor’s and Littler’s article in 2008 negative press has been directed towards the American Apparel brand. A key aspect of the brand is that they often use employees rather than models in the advertising campaigns. These images have been criticized in the US and UK press for featuring mainly Caucasian female subjects and drawing upon a visual discourse of soft pornography. In 2010 the company received a large amount of critical publicity about internal documents that were rumored to ask female employees to wear tight clothing and maintain ‘natural looking’ long hair, and that the physical appearance of potential African-American retail employees be of a ‘classy’, rather than ‘trashy’ type.
I’ve mentioned some of these works in my previous American Apparel discussion on this blog before. If you’re inclined I recommend checking out Moor, Liz and Littler, Jo. 2008. Fourth Worlds and neo-Fordism: American Apparel and the cultural economy of consumer anxiety.Cultural Studies, 22(5), pp. 700-723. ISSN 0950-2386 [Article]