Well, the American Apparel in Five Points is officially closed, and all I can say is: FINALLY. The past year has been horrendous for the domestic clothing manufacturer, and unfortunately, the worldwide economic crisis is not exactly to blame. President and CEO Dov Charney (who is actually not from the United States, but from Canada) has been targeted, naturally, as the source of the company’s problems.
Several years back, Dov and American Apparel were winning all sorts of awards. Then Woody Allen happened. That is to say, the company ran an advertisement with a picture of Woody Allen from the film Annie Hall without Woody’s permission. Obviously, he sued. Side note: Why companies—or individuals, for that matter—are still using images they don’t have the rights to is beyond me, and I don’t know anything about copyright law. It seemed to go very steeply downhill from there for Dov and his company.
The ads have steadily been getting more pornographic over the last several years, culminating in the most recent effort: a pastel watercolor of a topless, early-80s-esque blonde that looks like a rapist who has a bushy mustache, wears very white tennis shoes and very stiff, light-washed jeans painted it. The ad, in fact, makes me nauseous. Previous advertisements (or antic-isements, as I like to say) include but are not limited to the following: pencil-drawn nude sketches of prepubescent-looking girls, sex dolls erotically degrading each other, fluorescent adult film signs, butt cracks, pubic hair, lots and lots of tits and top-positioned employees in bed with the CEO himself. The image is actually very tame. Especially compared to his previous starring-role, in which a model appeared to be licking his you-know-what through what I can only assume are American Apparel brand boxer-briefs. But, the “In Bed With The Boss” ad is perhaps one of the most inappropriate, considering the numerous sexual harassment charges Dov has faced in the past.
Even setting aside the racy, pointlessly risqué advertising, I’m stunned the company hasn’t entirely failed yet. The clothes are ridiculously overpriced, even if they are made stateside, and often times don’t fit right. Half of their swimsuits are either lamé with labels that read, “Exposure to salt water and chlorine not recommended,” or have hoods on them (I’m sorry, what?). Although the brand has always maintained a hip, indie image, the “Legalize LA”and “Legalize Gay” gear probably pissed off a lot of conservative folk who otherwise would have loved to buy shit made in the almighty "land of the free and home of the brave". AND, the employees are rude anywhere you go. They’re rude at the AA in Richmond, where I’m from, they’re rude in the DC and NYC stores I’ve gone to and they were rude here in Columbia.
Perhaps the best thing about American Apparel is the website, wherein you can always find multiple images of real “employees and friends from around the world—not models” (i.e. thin as opposed to emaciated, naturally attractive as opposed to airbrush attractive, also some porn stars) wearing each product. Yet, shipping still isn’t free on all orders (only orders above $75) and it’s still online. AA has been in millions of dollars worth of debt for months and even after its major investors made a huge effort to help it recover, American Apparel (Dov, presumably) continued to put out the same ads, the same products, the same prices, the same everything! Recently, the company’s biggest shareholder began selling off his stake in the company. Needless to say, things are not looking up for Dov and the gang.
In short (after a very long rant, I know), I was shocked that American Apparel was in the Vista, confused when they moved to Five Points and completely unsurprised when they closed recently. So sorry guys and dolls, but next time something electronic comes to town, you’ll have to find your sparkly leggings and neon visors elsewhere.
P.S. I’m going to be hated even more than I am already after this final word: My dad bought a Ford a few years ago because it was produced domestically. It’s the biggest piece of junk our family has ever owned. Is it so hard to make a decent American product? I mean, really...