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American Apparel

Whenever someone shares in a passionate vision of mine, I can’t help it – I simply must applaud. For as long as I can remember I have been obsessed with classically designed, simplistic, understated clothing. Garments that have any unique features, I often scoff at. Elaborate graphics in non-conventional places practically generate anger. Sure, innovation is essential in the natural progression of culture, although I prefer it as minimal as possible.

Thank God for American Apparel! Canadian designer Dov Charney, whom remains the current president and CEO, founded this (once exclusively) wholesale company back in the late 80′s with the intent of selling high quality blank t-shirts to silk screen companies in the U.S. Charney’s passion for simplicity and quality landed him a reputable name and a great deal of praise. Enough praise, to pursue the business further and expand into Los Angeles, which is the current home of their 800,000 square foot manufacturing plant.

Upon the company’s massive success from a wholesale standpoint, Charney thought it appropriate to transition into retail as well. Needless to say, retail success was even stronger than wholesale. In 2005, American Apparel was pulling in revenues close to $225,000,000. Today, the company is stronger than ever with a staggering 300 retail storefronts.

I believe this catastrophic accomplishment was achieved by using two very important tactics:

Consistency: All of the clothes produced by American Apparel are and always have been fantastic quality. The fabrics and dyes used are top of the line, and the cuts remain true to their advertised size. When you try on a basic T-shirt, you instantly feel the careful and precise measurements that have gone into producing it. The colors are vivid and different, and style is workable with literally any angle of fashion. Consumers know exactly what they are getting when they make a purchase.

Creative/Controversial Marketing: Everyone has seen an American Apparel ad. The (often exclusively female) ads are provocative, sexy and very saucy. They push the limit so far, that many have been banned/censored. What I find particularly compelling and even enticing about these ads, is the fact that they feature a certain type of female model. They are always beautiful and elegant, but they certainly aren’t Heidi Klum’s. All of the scantily clad females in these racy ads are normal looking. String beans and Rails are often excluded and the spots feature curvy, and more sensual looking women. Coming from a man who prefers curvier women, perhaps I’m bias, but looking at it from a female perspective, this method of advertising is genius. It paints the picture of attainability. A girl looks at the clothing in these ads and actually believes she can justify them.

Like or leave it, love it or hate it. American Apparel is one of the strongest fashion houses in the world, and its reign has only just begun. I will continue to stand by this company in its pursuit of maintaining the classic, simplistic American style that has been somehow lost in fashion today.

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  • Anonymous

    Yooooooooooo, I love me some American Apparel! Their garments are amazing and their durability is unparalleled. Like most people I have numerous AA pieces in my collection, but my Western hoody has to be my fav.

    As for the advertising, it is very reminiscent of Calvin Klein’s work in the early 90′s. That strung out infant look glosses over every image. I think that most women struggle with it because it endorses a pseudo-sense of pedophilia, as well as anorexia. However, that just may be the echoes of first year women’s studies (lol). Either way I overlook their advertising as I’m more interested in their product.

    Great work!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Michael-Elliott/500513490 Christopher Michael Elliott

      Thanks dog. I love their stuff as well. Not too many brands have done what they have, and I really don’t see too many doing so in the future either… Except Dreamland Apparel of course! Cheeaa!!!

      • Anonymous

        Ya man… can’t wait to meet up and plot of 2011! Motto of the new year… “Oh, you just mad cause I’m stylin’ on you!”

      • Anonymous

        “Act up and get knocke–SNUFFED”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=297900523 Joscelyn Tyra Longo

    LOVE this – AA is one of my favorite stores, and I love the beautiful, comfortable simplicity of their clothes.

    I remember seeing the campaign that featured Lauren Phoenix (Canadian Adult-Film Star), where she was in nothing but AA tube socks… it was during my last year of High School, and I never wanted a pair of socks more in my entire life! hahaha… good post, Chris!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Michael-Elliott/500513490 Christopher Michael Elliott

      Thanks very much for the lobe Joscelyn. I’m glad you could connect with the advertising as well. AA really is an unbelievable brand… As a matter of fact. I’m going to hit the Queen street location today and get my cop on! Holla.

  • Anonymous

    Chris, I love all of your blogs but your Runway pieces continue to blow my mind. I guess the way you look at my Sports pieces I look at your Runway pieces.

    AA should be paying you for this. I have NEVER given this store a chance but based off of this article I am going to check it out this week! Like you, I hate busy designs, especially on tees. Jesus, kill me if you see me with ED HARDY on!

    So good dude, thanks for this!

    • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christopher-Michael-Elliott/500513490 Christopher Michael Elliott

      Oh thanks very much man. I really appreciate that love dog. Honestly, you would love their stuff. They have a stunning line of oxford button down wovens. Their corporate swag is as on point as their casual. That I promise. Check it out!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000583209773 Sabrina Camp

    i love their clothes.
    just wish i could afford more of them.

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