Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth
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Sex. Celebrity. Politics. With Teeth

In Treatment: 12 Steps To Save American Apparel From Itself

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American Apparel has done it again, and while they're probably doing an ironic top rock at their continued ability to rile the Man, we think it's time for an intervention. So here we go, kids: our suggested AA 12-step program:

1. Admit, ye higher-ups who run American Apparel, that you are powerless over Apparel: that your attempt to become ever-more-ironic and stay ahead of the aesthetic standards of The Man has become unmanageable and unwearable and that your immature antics are serving to undermine and overshadow genuinely progressive labor practices - thereby doing a disservice to your avowed mission. (Also, that your clothes fall apart and you've discontinued like half of the tee shirts in favor of rubberized leggings.)


2. Come to believe that a Power greater than yourselves could restore you to sanity: to wit, employees who are less interested in sucking up to an arrested adolescent than in propagating the company's more laudable aims; who recognize that your aesthetic jumped the shark three years ago; and that gold spandex is not the outward manifestation of a liberated consciousness.


3. Make a decision, American Apparel, to turn your will and your lives over to the care of said people as you understand them.

4. Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself, which is different from having a massive persecution complex, invoking Magna Carta, and talking self-righteously about your work for immigration whenever someone mentions jacking off in front of female employees and reporters, firing people you find insufficiently sexy, or the sexualizing and sexual subordination of pubescent-looking models.


5. Admit to the UK Advertising Standards Authority, to yourself, and to another human being - preferably not on your payroll - the exact nature of your wrongs.


6. Be entirely ready to have lawyers, re-merchandising, new art directors and spokespeople remove all these defects of character.

7. Humbly ask a Salvation Army pickup truck to remove all short-shorts, our tube-tops, hot-pants, thong bodysuits, bloomers and ironic scrunchies. Oh, those vintage Penthouse spreads can go, too.


8. Make a list of all persons you, American Apparel, have harmed, and become willing to make amends to them all. This will take a long time, but let's start with any employee fired based on her looks, all models who've been placed in compromising positions, everyone who had to look at that gross billboard on Houston, Woody Allen, teenagers who now think seersucker bloomers are acceptable eveningwear, those of us who have been wearing big glasses for years, those forced to sympathize with Woody Allen in nebbish-weight cage match, employees who were sexually harassed, employees forced to hang out at the company apartment, lawyers the company slandered, hipsters whose style you commercialized, and every 1980s Bar Mitzvah who you mocked in the service of tired irony.


9. Make direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others or involve their wearing said terrycloth underpants.

10. Continue to take personal inventory and when you, AA, are wrong promptly admit it. Not just by taking down certain billboards of a woman in tights and no pants apparently being frisked, or throwing money at recurring sexual harassment charges, or claiming philanthropy and support of immigration reform make it okay to do whatever the hell you want the rest of the time.


11. Seek through prayer and meditation (okay, that's negotiable) to improve your conscious contact with actual women and reasonable people as we understand them, asking only for knowledge of their wishes in wearable clothing, in respectful work conditions, and the power to carry that out. "Legal means" will work, too.

12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we hope you, American Apparel, will try to carry this message to all customers, employees, teenagers, models, and to practice these principles in all your affairs.


Building A Brand By Not Being A Brand [NY Times]
ASA Adjudications [ASA]
Buy or Boycott? [Newsweek]
Billboards: We See Through American Apparel's Latest Ad [Racked]
We Predict More Lawsuits in Dov Charney's Future [Gawker]

Living On The Edge At American Apparel [BusinessWeek]

Sexy Marketing Or Sexual Harassment? [MSNBC]
Earlier: American Apparel Ads: Sexy Or Sexist?
American Apparel Will Make You Look Like A Fat Hooker
Two Nebbishes Enter, One Leaves ($5 Million Richer)
American Apparel Now Sponsoring Bloggers & Porn Stars (NSFW)
American Apparel's Plans For Recession Success: More Sex, Please
Dov Charney's Sexual Harassment Woes Are A "Grave Injustice"

American Apparel Ad Succeeds [Gawker]