American Apparel No More…

12 Oct

 

 

Words by Rahsian Parris


Anyone with a relatively keen interest in fashion would have been desperately disappointed by the news that it might be all over for eccentric outfitters American Apparel having recently revealed that they are seriously in debt and quickly running out of money, losing over $30m a year. With ever growing financial issues and a CEO that is possibly as famous for his perversity as for his work in the fashion industry, the future does not look bright for the brand that is famous for their dazzling designs and innovative colour palettes. With 279 stores all over the world, 15 of which adorn our shores, why is it that such a popular brand, loyally followed by many, obliviously hailed by many more; is suffering so greatly?

It is no coincidence that the brand famous for it’s alternative take on American fashion basics is the largest clothing manufacturer in the United States; from concept to high street, founder, Dov Charney was always adamant that the brand make their own clothing stateside; they also do their own designing, marketing and advertising which, on paper seems extremely noble in comparison to other clothing brands, however this independence has not come without cost. The company’s headquarters (also it’s factories which include knitting and dyeing houses) are in Los Angeles, California and house a 4,000 strong army of workers that are paid over $12 dollars (currently about £7.50) an hour, excluding exclusive benefits; the standout point being that these workers are made up of immigrants and when compared to similar brands in the market that manufacture clothing internationally, in places like China, American Apparel pay their staff 70% more per hour than their rivals. So is this outward display of pro-equality from a brand that are notably in favour of a reformation in U.S immigration laws a reverent fashion first or could it be proving to be a business blunder however honourable?

The in-house integration coupled with a good workforce in numbers means that the company are able to churn out products effectively and quickly, taking no more than a ‘couple of weeks’ for a design to go from idea to international high street bestseller; so how is it that this company, with such an effective work strategy and staff that are clearly motivated, is borderline bankrupt? It seems that despite its popularity and worldwide recognition, American Apparel’s hold on the average quirky fashionista is not enough to wade through years of increasing debt, the wholesale and retail sales not being enough to keep the company afloat. The company is hording loan incurred debts of about $120million and with world wide sales plummeting, American Apparel is on the brink of death, making the futures of its of 10,000 global staff bleak.

Logistically, the company should be thriving, but yet they are not, it could be that hard-hitting ethics and strong willed opposition they are so famous for is making this world-renowned fashion retailer crash and burn. The question arises as to whether or not a positive step in fashion retail manufacturing has actually been the undoing of the basic fibres of American Apparel, that and the fact that somewhere along the lines lessons in lending were obviously skipped. The moral of this story should not necessarily be that being fashion forward only works by unethical means, but that there should always be some sort of balance in terms of what one can take on, oh and not borrowing copious amounts of money unless you can pay it back promptly. On a brighter note (in true American Apparel style), there has never been a better excuse to head to the high street and stock up on their fantastic basic tees, next year they might very well be vintage.

 

Rahsian Parris for Studentpunch

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2 Responses to “American Apparel No More…”

  1. Gem October 12, 2010 at 9:29 pm #

    Great post. I love American Apparel but as a healthy size 10/12 never felt like I could squeeze into shiny Lycra and I think many girls feel the same. Great colours and designs though – be sad to see it go. Great addition to the high street.

    • rparris October 23, 2010 at 11:36 am #

      I absolutely agree, Lycra isn’t for everyone, however, they do have great (lycra-free) Tees that will be sorely missed and their colour palettes are fab. I wonder who will take over as the *go to* store for anything and everything electric blue?

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