Most people will know what American Apparel stands for these days: lycra and a disputable marketing campaign.
Underlying this common perception American Apparel is a lot more than that.Â Its highly acclaimed vertical integration implies that all garmets are made in downtown LA and that foreign factory staff receive language courses to accelerate integration into society.
At the time of its inception American Apparel was based on a trend rather than a fashion.
The vertical integration was motivated by people’s desire to relate back to older values in society: quality and relying on things that last. Acting in a more sustainable way in making sure that everyone involved in the production, logistics, presentation and sale of the product made a profit, not merely the business owner. Going back to a simplicity that was welcomed especially after the hedonistically shaped 90s.
As part of this trend people were inclined to pay a higher price for basic items of clothing. Rather than having to deal with the fading fashions of the business, American Apparel provided a haven for those who only wanted basic goods made with acceptable quality and the consciousness that its workers weren’t massively exploited when producing the garments.
After having been hugely successful for most of the noughties, it seems that American Apparel has lost its way in doing business. The original consumer base, motivated by the products’ simplicity, quality and range, has been lost amongst deteriorating quality in products and a range that suits the fashion business more than the original consumers’ desire.
Even before recent media proclaimed its monetary suffering, it seemed American Apparel had started to lose its grounds. Rather than being a company based on the trends that move and motivate people, it has become a business that is in for the higher turnover, satisfying the teenage fashion generation more than the people who truly appreciated the company for what it was worth. It seems American Apparel has shifted from being a trend based business to being a fashion company.
Guardian article regarding American Apparel’s latest developments