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Sometimes it’s okay to hate kids: Ousted American Apparel CEO Dov Charney interviewed at age 12
10:57 am


American Apparel
Dov Charney

Everything the American Apparel clothing line advertises belies an odious fine print. For all the boasting of its success from founder and former CEO Dov Charney, the company always seems to teeter on bankruptcy. The promise of a perfectly comfy t-shirt come at hefty price-tag, and the quality and durability of the clothes frequently fall short. Claims of “sweatshop-free” and “made in the USA” are rendered moot by suspicious confidentiality agreements, union-busting and an absolute slew of sexual harassment lawsuits.

And now finally, finally, Charney has been dethroned as CEO by his own board, for rampant, and I mean rampant, business-related scumminess (allegedly!). It’s legitimately baffling that it took him this long to get fired. Then again, it appears that Charney has been getting away with being an asshole for a very, very long time.

Before he had more lawsuits than retail outlets, and yes, even before he went bankrupt the first time on his daddy’s start-up cash, Charney was quite the little hustler. Seen here at 12-years-old in the 1983 comedy documentary 20th-Century Chocolate Cake, little Dov bemoans the injustice of summer camp, where he doesn’t retain complete control of his finances. I’m not sure if this is the Israeli summer camp his father sent him to as a disciplinary measure, but if it was, it didn’t work—Charney senior said his son “kept escaping.” Morris Charney eventually ended up working from home to “keep an eye on” Dov, as he was “difficult to handle.” There are also rumors that the precocious little scamp was expelled from his posh Connecticut boarding school. Accounts vary, but they’re both pretty disgusting—think either ejaculate or feces.

Behold the sweet face of a future capitalist pig and absolute slimeball. He’s positively incensed that his summer camp won’t let him walk around with a wad of cash. He’s twelve. I tend to be fond of obnoxious children—everyone’s a beast at some point in childhood—but even I shuddered at the sound of this little black-market hustler when he spat with disgust:

“They just do it because they don’t want any poor kids to be jealous.”

Summer camp rules = Communism!

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
American Apparel’s ‘Period Power’ tee is menstruallific!
04:46 pm


American Apparel

American Apparel shirt
American Apparel, everyone’s favorite (union-busting, sexual harassing, but still technically sweatshop-free) producer of $20 plain t-shirts has created their most scandalous garment since those ugly-ass pleated mom-pants. At $32, the shirt depicts a close up of some “self-pleasing” artwork by artist, Petra Collins, who has quite the gynocentric resume:

The Ardorous is an all-female online art platform curated by Petra Collins, a Toronto-born artist. Petra began her infatuation with photography at age 15 and became an American Apparel retail employee around the same time. She creates portraits exploring female sexuality and teen girl culture. Now 20, Petra has worked with Vice, Vogue Italia, Purple, Rookie, and is a contributing photographer for American Apparel.

I’m no prude, and I love me some uncomfortable vagina art, but I’m left with many questions. I mean, since Annie Sprinkle’s Public Cervix Announcement and The C*nt Coloring Book, are explicit portrayals of vulva really that transgressive anymore? I suppose the menstruation doesn’t play to the ole’ patriarchal norms, and it’s nice to see pubes, I suppose. But aside from being graphic and trendy, is this really much of a departure from the perpetual vulva parade of pop culture?

When is a vagina interesting, and when is it just shock value? And when the mere image ceases to be shocking, does it have much cultural significance?

Most importantly, how can you masturbate with that manicure?

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
American Apparel’s tacky ‘Sandy’ sale: Vulture capitalism that doesn’t even try to hide it!
01:33 pm

Stupid or Evil?

American Apparel

This is fucking shameful. American Apparel should be donating the 20% savings to the Red Cross.

Does Dov Charney really wonder why everyone seems to think he’s an asshole?

Via Joe.My.God

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Subverting American Apparel: an interview with the amazing Nancy Upton

You might have seen the name Nancy Upton trending online in the last few days. After taking offence at the language in a recent talent-hunt campaign by American Apparel (a company whose image is already a source of much controversy, and who are looking for a plus-size model to advertise their new range), Nancy decided to do some satirical beauty shots of herself sexily consuming food and enter them into the contest. Well, the photos came out very well and have proved wildly popular with the public, who have voted Nancy into first place in the competition (even though she has stated that she would not accept the prize if the judges chose her to win). 

All in all this is a pretty awesome story, which touches on female sexual empowerment, body image, sexist corporate branding and the acceptability of sizeism within the mainstream. I sent Nancy some brief questions for Dangerous Minds, and she was kind enough to answer them in some detail:

How did you feel about American Apparel before their “plus size” competition? What was it about this particular campaign that made you want to enter?

I feel like they’ve always gone above and beyond other companies in objectifying women. Basically it was the fact that they were trying to take advantage of a new market but make it seem like they were doing people a favor. I answered this a bit with my Daily Beast article.

“The company was co-opting the mantra of plus-size empowerment and glazing it with its unmistakable brand of female objectification. The puns, the insulting, giggly tones, and the over-used euphemisms for fat that were scattered throughout the campaign’s solicitation began to crystalize an opinion in my mind.
American Apparel was going to try to use one fat girl as a symbol of apology and acceptance to a demographic it had long insisted on ignoring, while simultaneously having that girl (and a thousand other girls) shill their products.”



What’s your reaction to being voted no. 1 by the public?

Complete and utter shock. I never expected to actually be accepted into the contest, and I certainly never expected for people (other than friends who knew what I was doing and why I was doing it) to want me to win.

You’ve taken a bit of flack for supposedly insulting large women with the pics - how do you respond to that?

It’s actually very upsetting for me to hear from women that they feel insulted by what I did. I feel like, being a plus-sized woman myself, it should be very apparent that the photos are done to mock people who are the ones judging overweight men and women. Also, that they were done in the spirit of silly shenanigans and having fun being yourself. I feel like watching a plus-sized model get brutally airbrushed or only shot from one specific, slimming angle for an ad campaign is way more insulting. It’s interesting that by insulting a company that has a history of negativity towards women, I’ve managed to insult the same women the company marginalizes.

You have already said that if you do win you wouldn’t accept the prize - but wouldn’t it be better if you did?

Would it be better? I’m not sure. I wouldn’t appear for American Apparel because I disagree with their business practices, specifically their system of advertising. I feel like putting your face on a product or brand you can’t actually get behind is pretty gross. I’m also not sure it would send a great message. I feel like I’ve had an opportunity to make a statement about standing up (or at least satirizing) for what you believe in, and if I turned around and accepted a job from AA, that statement would be negated to a degree.

Do you have any favourite other models in the comp you think should win?

I’m not going to play favorites, but I definitely think the person chosen should ACTUALLY be unknown, especially since there’s no monetary compensation. Some of the women in the competition not only had modeling experience, but are actually signed with agencies. I’ve always been under the impression that once you have representation, you should avoid contests and stunts like this. But what the hell do I know about the world of modeling?

What do you think as to how large people are treated in mainstream culture and fashion in general, and is there anything anyone can do to affect this?

I feel like it’s a dialogue/presence that is always in a flux between shrinking and expanding. For every “fat best friend” throw away character on television, we get one who is brilliantly written and portrayed. Increasingly we see different shapes and looks being incorporated into major ad campaigns and runway work. Are large people treated well across the board? No. Has their level of representation and respect grown from where it was 10 years ago? Yes.

I think people are becoming more and more outspoken about the role of the plus-sized model in fashion, as well as in other aspects of entertainment and art. If we continue to keep those lines of communication open and express our desires directly and dynamically, change will happen.

Are there any designers/labels/outlets you think DO respect plus size people?

I think some designers have cuts that are more generous or have become more generous as time has gone on. Diane Von Furstenberg, for example. I believe they go up to a 14 now, as does Kate Spade, which is interesting considering their clothing line isn’t even the company’s main selling point.

I’m a big fan of the Dove campaigns. They’re very natural and don’t feel patronizing or cheap. They’re honest, simple and encourage individuality. The Gentlewoman had a great article on Adele earlier this year, and I’m a big fan of the way they profile strong, interesting women in their magazine. Target has a great selection of sizes and, I swear, every time I walk in there, the clothes are better and better.

And finally the photographs are beautiful - can you tell us more about the photographer?

Shannon Skloss, the magnificent. She has a website that will be launching soon, but for now you can find her business page on Facebook. She’s incredibly funny, vibrant and talented. We had so much fun on the shoot, and her work is just outstanding. We were introduced through a mutual friend when I needed some headshots done a few months ago, and I’m so glad it worked out that way.

Voting has now closed on the American Apparel “Next Big Thing” campaign, though we await with interest any kind of statement from the company. Shannon Skloss’ Facebook photography page is here.


Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Leave a comment
Imaginary conversations with American Apparel Models
12:26 am


American Apparel

Kevin Nguyen wonders what it would be like to chat up the women that define scandalous hipster chic:

“If you could have any kind of dog, what would you have? I think I would get a corgi. Corgis are my favorite.”

“Haha, yeah, corgis are the best!”

Imaginary conversations with American Apparel Models (Bygone Bureau)

Thank you, Jesse Merlin!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Striking a pose for “American Able”
01:44 pm


American Apparel
American Able

From the site of Canadian photographer, Holly Norris:

‘American Able’ intends to, through spoof, reveal the ways in which women with disabilities are invisibilized in advertising and mass media.  I chose American Apparel not just for their notable style, but also for their claims that many of their models are just ‘every day’ women who are employees, friends and fans of the company.  However, these women fit particular body types.  Their campaigns are highly sexualized and feature women who are generally thin, and who appear to be able-bodied.  Women with disabilities go unrepresented, not only in American Apparel advertising, but also in most of popular culture.  Rarely, if ever, are women with disabilities portrayed in anything other than an asexual manner, for ‘disabled’ bodies are largely perceived as ‘undesirable.’  In a society where sexuality is created and performed over and over within popular culture, the invisibility of women with disabilities in many ways denies them the right to sexuality, particularly within a public context.


Posted by Bradley Novicoff | Leave a comment