The following is what can only be described as a letter of hope and admiration. You already know that the company is flailing. Amidst the ex-CEO's sexual harrassment scandals, it's inability to pay its workers, suppliers and debtors, American Apparel has definitely seen better days.
And I am sad.
I'm often greeted with scowls when I share my love for this brand with friends and strangers. "Why?! Hello, haven't you read the news?!" And to be fair, their reaction isn't uncalled for. The news has been ugly at best, infuriating, and downright awful at its worst. It's tough to separate the man from the vision and business, and judge things appropriately.
So why is this a love letter?
As the company dangles on the brink of what can be a miraculous recovery, an adoption by a graceful saviour, or a total vulture-fest, I'm hoping it's one or both of the former two and not the latter.
Hate the high-waisted disco pants as you will, or the company's sexy photos, but there are some things that I'd like to point out as undeniable.
American Apparel's business model of bringing garment manufacturing back to America during a time when most companies wouldn't dream of it, will always be the best part of its legacy.
It was and continues to be as unapologetic in its views on sweatshop-free labour and made-in-America clothing as it is for it's sense of style and raunchy photos.
And there is no doubt in my mind that it gave birth to the dreams of other local clothing companies, who believed that it was indeed possible to make clothing in the homeland once again.
It's almost unbelievable to think of making clothing locally and paying garment workers salary and benefits. And yet they did it for many years.
American Apparel's energy and fashion risk-taking was refreshing and I would venture to say that it revived a love for long-lost styles that have since been adopted and copied by many fast-fashion retailers.
Blatant dare-to-dream mentality and unabated vision is so hard to come by these days.
This is the stuff of icons.
Whatever happens, American Apparel is an example of what to do.
Don't be lukewarm. It's better to have a brief moment of guts and glory than to have many years of lucrative but forgettable existence.
Money isn't everything.
It's too easy to get caught up in the scandal and forget the good bits.
The public's general reaction to the brand's scandals is ironic, given that most people are absolutely unaware of the practices of other fashion labels they wear, their ethos and treatment of workers.
American Apparel, I love you for what you were and believed in.
Things are complicated now, and any turnaround won't be easy.
No one knows what the future holds, but I will send well wishes your way.
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