Monday, July 27, 2009

American Apparel: Abercrombie & Fitch for hipsters

I exist in tandem with a lot of hipsters. I cannot myself claim the term, because of the hipster paradox: all hipsters want everyone to think that they are hipsters, but no hipster can ever claim the identity openly. So, if I claim the label of hipster, I am no longer a hipster. It is an identity that I cannot claim, which is weird and irritating - I feel like I can't criticize hipsters because I'm not a part of the group, or I can't admit that I'm part of the group.

Another identity conundrum that irritates me is that "you're not feminist!" meme. Even when applied to Sarah Palin. People have a right to their identities, even if they manipulate them. Even if they contradict them.

But one thing that makes me sputter and almost fall back on said meme is American Apparel. Lots of feminists like them, and I don't understand. What feminist could ... appreciate the good fit, high quality and ethical manufacturing. Well, shit.

There are many reasons that American Appeal beckons, but any overture or attempt to justify or explain how "empowering" it is just make me madder. (Not that they care too much about me, as a fatty.)

American Apparel is, to me, not too many steps above Abercrombie & Fitch. They operate from the same toolbox: they work to create an exclusive standard of beauty, and exclude all of those who don't fit up to their high standards:
The tipster, an employee of AA, claims that Charney recently freaked out due to a dip in sales (and that big check he has to write to Woody Allen), and as such made every store send in a group photograph of the staff. The ones labeled unattractive by the head honcho were encouraged to be fired—allegedly something many managers were scared not to due lest they get fired themselves.
That's a lot of kinds of fucked up.

And from here on out, in hipster contexts, I will be the Dour Feminist and yell: Fuck American Apparel. They are proud misogynists, and if they weren't performing in a hipster context, they would get no more respect than Abercrombie.

[Source, via Feministing]


  1. Another dilemma re: AApparel is that they're one of the few manufacturers of organic/environmentally responsible clothing. So what, I have to choose between supporting misogynists or pollution-spewing CEO's?

    I'd prefer neither-- besides, Goodwill has far more interesting (and less rich&pretentious) shoppers than brand name stores.

  2. Cole - excellent point. Another thing is that we often support them without realizing it - many bands/other organizations use them for screenprinting.

  3. Ohhh, I had jungle fever it in New guinea...needed a shot and 3 weeks bedrest...oh wait, you mean the OTHER jungle fever, right?


  4. I really wish I could ethically buy from American Apparel. They get a lot right -- the t-shirts feel good and fit well, they're made by people who get paid more than shit wages out of materials that are more environmentally conscious than most. But I can't get past Dov Charney's misogyny and his exploitation of women's bodies in his marketing. The soft-core porn imagery has been bad enough; the 70's shout-out racism just seems like icing on a really nasty cake.

  5. Oh, I'm late to the party, but I had to add that "good fit" with American Apparel definitely does not apply to larger bodies, which is a whole separate can of worms. So at least I'm spared the ethical dilemma of whether or not to buy from them, because nothing they may fits me!

  6. colewardell

    Isn't the choice between misogynists and misogynists who also pollute?

  7. Great write!
    Or, nice piece of work!

  8. What magazine did this come from? Which issue of the mag as well?


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