I strive to be the least trendy person on the planet. Part of this is purely accidental. For instance, my phat ass makes it impossible for me to wear skinny jeans. Seriously. Trying to squeeze into a pair is like trying to stuff Pillsbury biscuit dough back into its canister.
Sure, I listen to some Pitchfork-inspired music. But the tracks that get the most action are those that feature an accordion and a clarinet or were recorded by Ween. I don’t ride a bike anymore because I developed a very healthy fear of cars that could not keep pace with my extraordinarily inadequate health insurance. And even when I did ride a bike, it was a refurbished mountain bike made out of random parts that had been confiscated by the Arlington Heights police department.
I admittedly have grown a mustache on a couple occasions. But both times were specifically for the purposes of a themed show, and I shaved it off immediately afterward at the behest of my boyfriend.
Finally, if not listening to Fuck Buttons wasn’t enough, I have never shopped at American Apparel in my life. Seriously. I’ve only set foot in an American Apparel store once, and that was because my ride wanted to browse for a minute. And in that short time that I spent in the store, I swear I had a thousand little seizures induced by the outrageously loud colors and high prices of the rather blasé selection.
But besides not enjoying their rather uninspired inventory, I have always had a problem with their corporate ethics. Yes, the company touts that everything is manufactured in America. That’s all patriotic and shit. But despite this tear-jerking nationalism, the company has a history of hiring illegal workers. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about Dov Charney, the company’s CEO and human turd bucket.
Dov has worked tirelessly to cultivate American Apparel’s trademark image…that image being “skank.” You see his aesthetic touch in all the company’s advertising, which is about as classy as a jiz-stained truck stop tit mag.
Dov takes many of these pictures himself. He’s also been accused of having sex with models and employees, or more accurately coercing models and employees to have sex with him.
Much of this bad press initially did little to hurt the company, which completely dominated an entire decade. Seriously, I feel like my generation’s culture has been shaped by American Apparel, Apple Computers and PBR.
And so American Apparel became closely tied to everything cool. From music to fashion to art, Dov’s empire was THE empire. And if you didn’t subscribe, then you were left on the sidelines wearing your shitty no-name douche shirt.
But things took a turn, and by things, I mean American Apparel’s stock. At its peak, the price per share of APP exceeded $15. It is currently worth 93 cents per share. That means a fucking shirt from American Apparel costs more than 20 shares of American Apparel stock.
Why did the company tank so badly to the point that it may actually have to completely liquidate? For one, it expanded into ubiquity during a time when the economy was teetering on crashing. The expansion also served to dilute the brand, which formally held some cachet for being niche. Also, Dov went on record bashing the company’s then CFO in 2008 calling him a “complete loser.” So classy. And then there were multiple accusations that the company misled investors.
Additionally, the company’s own product line has come back to bite it in the scantily clad butt. There have been few innovations in style. I suppose you could chalk this up to the whole “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” concept. But it is broke. Real broke. Nobody is buying their clothes, and the newer styles that American Apparel has introduced have been utter flops.
If all this isn’t enough, the company has decided to rock the boat once again. Already an easy target for feminists, the company really stoked the ire of liberated women everywhere with its XL model contest. As the ad says, the company is looking for “the next BIG thing.” I guess Dov really does believe in equal opportunity, and by that I mean whether you’re thin as a starved puppy or as plump as a Christmas goose, you deserve to be photographed near nude in a public restroom before being forced to swallow a mouthful of pubes.
In the end, I envision American Apparel will go the way of the Delorean. It was the must-have car of the ’80s that didn’t live into the ’90s.