There’s a new American Apparel story every day: Last week, the Seattle Times wrote, “American Apparel’s new CEO brings order to company chaos.” The New York Post noticed that Versace had knocked off an American Apparel t-shirt. On Wednesday, Jezebel asked, “What the hell is going on with American Apparel?” Later that same day, The New York Times wrote, “American Apparel to Lay Off 180 Workers.” A few months after the Dov Charney shakedown, the brand is gunning for a makeover. No more nipples, see ya later pubic hair.
The fashion industry might be obsessed, but are actual shoppers paying attention? I took to the streets of Los Angeles to ask people exiting American Apparel stores exactly what they know about the company. There were ambiguous replies like, “I’ve heard about some weird employee stuff,” and, “something about sweatshops.” One passerby turned to his friend and said, “Did you know the CEO is being sued?” before walking away. His question may be old hat, but hey, he knows more than most of the people with whom I spoke.
Two Brits & A French Guy
Shopping for: Underwear
What they know: That America needs to lighten up. “Of course we’re not offended by sexual imagery, we’re European!”
Shopping for: Racerback tanks
What she knows: Their cotton basics are cute for working out. “I’m not really put off by their child porn advertising, but if they went under, I’d be bummed to have to find a new place to buy cute sweats.”
Shopping for: Sneakers, in the store next door
What she knows: Circle skirts are so 2013. “I have friends who boycotted them because of the advertising, but I’m just over the whole dancewear thing.”
The Sensitive Guy
Shopping for: T-shirts
What he knows: The gist; that the CEO is “a dirtbag” and the advertising made him feel uncomfortable, i.e., “I felt creepy looking at sexy ads with young girls in them.”
The Savvy Shoppers
Shopping for: Basics
What they know: It’s expensive for the quality, ergo, “I’d rather shop Alternative Apparel or Uniqlo.”
Shopping for: Summer stuff
What they know: Um, models were sexually harassed? “American Apparel shouldn’t change. The sexy thing is what they’re known for….just so long as the models aren’t being harassed.”
So no, no one knew that the brand’s CEO was recently ousted, and no one seemed to care. Maybe American Apparel did right by getting rid of its controversial CEO, but perhaps a PG repositioning isn’t necessary? In the words of Warren Buffet: “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” Time will tell.