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American Apparel Out Of Pockets

August 19, 2010


I reckon I foray into my local American Apparel on Camden Highstreet about once a month. Every visit is the same. I cross the shiny threshold in hope that maybe, just maybe, there’s an item of clothing I can afford to feed my vain attempt at looking like a cool person out of some solar-flared commercial. As I descend the stairs and stare at the minimal cuts and bright foreign tailoring, I feel, just for a moment, like I’m part of some higher order, a bright new dawn, part of the new age of city dwelling youth taking back the world with their colour, cheekbones and gawky model looks. Fey and ebullient acoustic music plays in my head as I navigate the stitching on a maroon V-neck, before finding the price tag and exclaiming loudly, ‘Fuc£ing hell, that’s pricey!” Such behaviour is usually met with a variety of responses ranging from disgust to pity. The AA clothes rail can be a cruel place. And on the odd occasion I’ve gulped down the shame and taken that Mélange Jersey Short Sleeve Deep V straight to the till and made a purchase.  

Which is why my pockets feel a sense of vindication having heard that American Apparel are up shit creek. Dov Charney, AA’s founder, and the kind of guy who has a face you’d expect to see staring back at you from US court room televisations, is in a bit of trouble financially. The share price has halved since the start of the year and they’re £77 million in debt, with fears over possible bankruptcy.

In a bid to boost profits the brand is moving it’s focus away from ‘the hipster’ look to summat more timeless and preppy. Less ‘Shoreditchian gutter chic’, more ‘vampiric weekend away in the country’. But will this save them? THe whole point was surely that American Apparel was so distinctive and different,  so much part of the late noughties scene that brought it to life, that the clothing brand itself has/had a shelf-life. Things move on. ‘Timeless’ might be too far to stretch for some. 

Maybe they should start sewing extra pockets into their clothes, provide the customers with somewhere to keep their cash. Or have the cool kids suddenly realised that this brand is screwing them over when times are tight. I hope so.

I went into American Apparel last Sunday. For the first time, I felt not only surprised but angered by those price tags.

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