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American Apparel

20-Something, Fashion/Design, Pop Culture

Urban Outfitters vs. American Apparel: Which Hipster Brand Is Most Ethical?

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I’ve had this blog for years and every month I get an itch to make it more streamlined. Thoughts of starting an editorial calendar dance in my head, but who am I kidding? My brain is about as organized as the basement of some sad sack on A&E’s Hoarders.

If I was more organized, I would make Friday my designated fashion and design day. In an attempt to accomplish that goal, I’m going to write about the most ridiculously hipster fashion topic I can think of:

Urban Outfitters

and

American Apparel.

Two clothing companies that the hip teen-through-thirty-somethings who think they are still teens love to shop at.

Full disclosure: I used to shop at both AND off and on worked at the latter (judge away!)

I no longer shop at Urban Outfitters for ethical reasons, however, I continue to support American Apparel, not because of some Kool-Aid allegiance I formed while working there (believe me, it’s NOT a perfect company), but because side-by-side, American Apparel is a Continue Reading

Fashion/Design

Best Nail Polish in the World is by American Apparel

I’ve never been a girly girl.

I don’t wear pink, I’ve never gotten a manicure or pedicure, I’ve never envisioned what my wedding dress will look like and I haven’t brushed my hair regularly in three years (note- this doesn’t mean my hair is dirty, I do indeed wash my hair).

However, I love the living crap out of Sephora, I could watch every Ryan Gosling movie ever made and I do enjoy some red lipstick and smokey eyes once in awhile.

But, most of the time I like sitting in yoga pants, tank top and watching my butt grow larger and larger the longer I work from home.

If I ever need a quick reminder that there is a woman somewhere beneath the unsexiness, I whip out my American Apparel nail polish.

American Apparel’s nail polish is quite possibly the best out there. It’s non-toxic, comes in a slew of unique colors and lasts for weeks. Weeks, I tell you!

Slap a clear top coat on your nails and you’re set for the long haul. Screw OPI or all the expensive salon junk.

I Continue Reading

Austin, Pop Culture

Are You a Bobo?

In this week’s CultureMap article, “More than Trader Joe’s in store: Seaholm development targets ‘urban bohemians,'” managing partner of Seaholm LLC, John Rosato, used the titular term when describing the sort of clientele they want their future tenants to cater to. A lot of you thought the phrase “urban bohemian” sounded like the verbal equivalent of dragging your nails across a chalkboard, but I have news for you, it ain’t nothing new.

Try on this word for size: Bobo. Bourgeois bohemian. Does that make you want to throw up a little in your mouth, too?

“Bobo” was coined by David Brooks in his 2000 social commentary, Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. The book describes the rise of upper middle class and their penchant for spending big bucks on organic food, brand new electric cars and all-American clothing.

They are a hybrid of the “liberal idealism of the 1960s and the self-interest of the 1980s” a.k.a. hipsters with money. Bobos are Continue Reading

Austin, Pop Culture

Tucker Max is a Douchey Douche

Did you hear about this bologna yesterday? According to Gothamist, author, douche bag extraordinaire and fellow Austinite (blech!), Tucker Max, had a hissy fit because Planned Parenthood wouldn’t take $500,000 from him. In fact, he had such a fit that he got his friend/media spinner, 25 year-old (!) Ryan Holiday, to slam Planned Parenthood on Forbes. In short, Holiday told Tucker that in order to ease his high tax burden, it would look good if he donated to Planned Parenthood (an organization that Tucker has made fun of on Twitter before). He even suggested that PP would maybe even “name a clinic after him”. Can you imagine stepping foot into a clinic named after a dude who uses women and generally doesn’t give a shit about anyone other than himself?

I posted the Austinist version of this article on my social media profiles and got a wide range of responses from friends and strangers. Everyone agreed that Tucker is the reigning king of douchism, but some  said, “money is money” Continue Reading

20-Something, Hipstercrite Life, Pop Culture

Hipster Valentine’s Day Gift Guide

This will be the first Valentine’s Day I will have someone to share with in over eight years. Because I used to date douchebags, our courtship was typically as long as a cat’s pregnancy and Valentine’s Day never fell within that time. I’ve never gotten too keyed up about Valentine’s Day, so it’s not like I’m going to expect f’ing roses and shit. The idea that we have to be any more appreciative on one day over all others is silly to me. What if you’re appreciative of your significant other every day? Do you have a greeting card for that shit? Regardless it’s a holiday and it’s not going anywhere and I’m writing about it because I like excuses to make hipster gift guides.

So if you still wondering what to get your hipster sweetie for V-Day, check out these gift ideas below:

When you don’t know how to say it, say the word “fucking”. Always a good way to let your significant other know that you care. Urban Outfitters $39

And when you still don’t know how to say it, Continue Reading

Fashion/Design

Winter Fashion Staples: How To Look Stylish and Not Like Ralphie From A Christmas Story

It’s that time of year. That time where we Texans contemplate if we miss summer or not. 108 degrees or 40 degrees- which would you take?

Yes, Winter is finally here and I am completely not prepared.

I grew up in a town that has 8 month Winters and because of that and moved far, far away, as quickly as I could.  Because of this, I pretend that Winter no longer exists.

Every Winter I think I can get away without a heavy jacket and gloves and every Winter I suffer. Greatly. Or rather the people around me do. They have to listen to my teeth chattering and my exaggerated pleas for survival.

But, this year I’m going to be smart. This week is the first butt-ass cold week of the year and I’m already getting my Winter checklist ready. A checklist that doesn’t involve sweatpants. You know, the one where you can still look stylish and not like a bundled up Ralphie from A Christmas Story.

Check it below.

What are your winter staples?

Sheer Circle Scarf- This is quite possibly Continue Reading

20-Something, Pop Culture

The Hipsterfication of NPR

source

NPR’s “The Hipsterfication of America“.

Dear God.

What happened?

I wanted to write about this last week when the article first came out but my mind was so blown, I had to spend the weekend recuperating.

NPR! I love you, but did you write this back in 2008 and forget to post it until now? Was it a slow news day? Did an 88 year-old man who has been living on a remote island out in the Galapagos write this? Or do you think that your viewership is strictly 88 year-olds, because I have news for you NPR, hipsters listen to you and we’re severely confused by this article.

If you haven’t had the pleasure of reading this article yet (it’s a short one), NPR decided it was time for America to know about hipsters.

“In case you haven’t noticed, hipsters — and those who cater to them — are everywhere. And that really galls some hipsters,” the author Linton Weeks (sounds like a James Thurber character!) stated. The article goes on to state that hipsterdom is an omnipresent Continue Reading

Fashion/Design

How To Stay Stylish in Clothing Melting Heat

While cataclysm of Waterworld-esque proportions keeps happening in other parts of the country, here in Austin, Texas we’ve been as bone dry as two teenagers humping after marching band practice. It’s also been a cool 104 degrees with a steady 90% humidity AT ALL TIMES. These two facts combined together make day-to-day living extremely difficult. Being from New York, my body can’t handle such zenith. Our bodies are predestined to be weak, capable of only handling such weather-related hardship as translucent skin and Eddie Bauer fashion. When my native New Yorker father visited me in Austin this weekend and ran across the molten blacktop barefooted, I saw his feet explode into an awesome ray of light while native Texans idly strolled by. I’m convinced that Texans are part of their own tribe, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and skinning squirrels with their eyesight.

I am three years into living in Texas and I’m still sufficiently stunned when the summer approaches. I cry each year that the weather is as horrifying as last and I’m convinced that we are turning into the Twilight Zone episode where the Earth is moving closer to the Sun. I’m also pretty sure that we’re turning into that Twilight Zone episode where most of our neighbors are being controlled by aliens, but that is a discussion for a future post…

What I dislike most about Texas summers is the inability to dress fashionably. Summer dresses and floral patterns aren’t my bag. I grew up in the land where you layered yourself into an indistinguishable ball of wool; a Cousin It hobbling from house to work back to the house without ever showing more than your glazed over eyes and hot pink nose. Scarves, cardigans, and hats are what I feel most comfortable with, along with clothing colors named after root vegetables. We Northeasterners love to dress like French foreign exchange students.

My style typically looks like this photo below. Do you know what would happen if I wore this outfit in Austin, Texas in July? Do you? DO YOU? I would most likely turn into a star and shoot out into the universe, that is how hot I would be.

Though thin, I’ve never been a skinny girl, so common Austin summer wardrobe such as florescent hot shorts, jumpers, and mini skirts are not preferred. I partook in a lot of sports as a child so my legs have more muscle-cum-loose-muscle than I care for. In fact, I’m having a sale on Lauren muscle, so if anyone needs some, I’m selling it for $5 a bundle. Feeling fashionable in Austin has been difficult and after trying on a bunch of 90’s flower dresses last night at a thrift store and becoming discouraged, I was very close to throwing in the towel and proclaiming my summer fashion as over-sized t-shirts and no pants.

But instead I decided to take this on as a challenge. To make sure I have summer fashion that is “a symbol of my individuality and belief in personal freedom.”  I will find my Texas summer fashion and own it. Here are some tips I’m telling myself to keep on track…

1.) Incorporate a bathing suit into your dailywear- This is what they do at American Apparel and I understand why. I have the Nylon Tricot Hooded Swimsuit below and I’m thinking of just wearing it with jeans. Of course there is an excessive amount of side boob, but isn’t there a rule that in the summer that the side o’ boob can peak out? Also, people will think you’re a sassy Darth Maul when wearing this.

Also, I think one can get away with the American Apparel halter one-piece. I’m a favorite of this bathing suit. It has a Marilyn Monroe feel to it. Didn’t you know that Marilyn was a fan of the Amer Appy?

2.) Maxi dresses- I’ve decided that the only dresses I’m going to wear this summer are maxi dresses. They’re flattering for all body types, are typically nice and breezy, and can be very elegant. They’re sexy around the neckline and give the illusion that you’re much taller than you actually are. Yesterday I went and bought this dress made from the sweat of tiny hands at Forever 21.

3.) T-shirt dresses- Ok, I lied. I’m going to wear maxi dresses AND t-shirt dresses this summer. T-shirt dresses don’t sound sexy, but does THIS look sexy?

Huh? HUH?
Oh, it isn’t, you say?
Well, that’s embarrassing…
I’m a big fan of the Slummy T-Dress from Alternative Apparel- whose clothing is not made from the sweat of tiny hands.

4.) Wear sunglasses that are more interesting than your face or anything that you’re wearing- I have a pair of sunglasses that I love. Strangers dig them, but my family and friends secretly want to sit on them and fart them into oblivion. If they did, I would beat them senseless. They are a little ridiculous, but they have a retro quality I like. Someone once said that my glasses make me look like a cross between Woody Allen and Grace Kelly. I’ll f’ing take that.

Fashion/Design

The Rise and Fall of American Apparel

I have a secret to tell you.
I worked off and on at American Apparel for three years.

It’s true.
I was one of them.

I often felt this fact was a tiny mar on my resume and should be excluded from the story of my life. For a long time I simply didn’t tell anyone that I worked for the company. I was kind of embarrassed. I knew what many people thought of the company, but more importantly I knew what people thought that we, the employees, thought about ourselves. Which is that we are all stuck-up, pretentious hipsters who would rather stare at the ceiling and flash side-boob instead of smile at a customer. I mean, I think of ourselves that way sometimes. Having visited a number of American Apparels I can tell you that in some cases that statement is accurate. The company is not known for their customer service training. In fact, there is zero customer training other than looking “hip”. However, if the company is lucky enough to hire employees that already understand that greeting a customer instead of acting as though they invaded their territory, then you have a pretty good store. The stores in Austin and Portland both have very good employees. The same can not be said for many of the Los Angeles and New York stores.

I also left this employment tidbit off of my narrative because it simply didn’t mesh with what I thought were the more interesting stories of being a Hollywood assistant (I began working at American Apparel after I left working in the film business).  I ignorantly felt that working in retail seemed like a step backwards, an example of “not being able to cut it in the real world”. Boy, was I stupid little fool! Little did I know that retail is often a very stressful and challenging job and anyone who works full-time in retail should be given lots and lots of prizes. Any person who knocks retail should try working in a retail store between Black Friday and Christmas.

I’m not here to talk about my adventures in retail though. I’m here today to talk about the rise and fall of American Apparel. I’m not going to bad mouth the company or tell you dirty little behind-the-scenes stories. My experiences with the company were mostly enjoyable. I’m going to explain why it will be a sad day once this company goes under. Yeah, you heard me right. A mo-fo’ing sad day.

It is no secret that American Apparel is having difficulty. News outlets like Gawker, Jezebel, and Huffingtonpost have gleefully chronicled the rumors of a decline since the summer of 2010. Just a few weeks ago, a string of articles from the NY Times, NY Mag, and Business Week claim that bankruptcy at this point is “inevitable”. Stores are no longer getting regular shipments in or the necessary supplies to run a day-to-day business. None of this phases founder and CEO, Dov Charney, though. In fact, Charney has been quoted as saying he feels “inspired” with the looming threat of bankruptcy. This scare is nothing new to American Apparel, who has been bailed out once before, but reports this time are looking grim. A group of Canadian investors are offering a $15 million bail out, but the company reported a $86 million loss in 2010.

Many have speculated what caused this big shiny balloon to pop so fast (the company has been around for 13 years). Employees prophesied the imminent demise years ago after watching again and again business practices that were not in the company’s best interest. Practices like hiring young and unskilled workers to manage stores, districts, or whole departments. Practices like not listening to advice when your trend ideas are clearly off the mark. News reports state that Charney’s sudden shift of focus on preppy clothing instead of the basic and hipster clothing we were all used to is what sealed the coffin shut, but I figure it’s the nihilistic, free-for-all managing practices that got themselves in a jam.

For all of you who are celebrating the death of the unitard, the lamé leggings, and the provocative ads of employees, well, let me remind you that American Apparel is the largest clothing factory of it’s size that’s made 100% in America. The company supplies over 8,000 jobs to people living in America. “But half of those workers are illegal immigrants!” you might say. It’s true and American Apparel has never hidden the fact that they employee thousands of undocumented Mexican and Latinos workers at their factory in Los Angeles. Workers that they pay above industry average, that they offer subsidized health care, lunch, and transportation fare to, that they do not exploit nor take for granted. The company even pushed a much controversial “Legalize LA: Immigration Reform Now” campaign where they printed thousands of t-shirt with said logo and and marched in the May Day Immigration Parade in Los Angeles.

Speaking of social campaigns, American Apparel also jumped on board with the fight against Prop 8. The company printed and donated thousands of “Legalize Gay: Repeal Prop 8 Now” t-shirts and encouraged individual stores to don their windows with the logo. The company has also encouraged individual stores to get involved with local non-profits related to said causes.

With all the controversy surrounding the company, it is easy to forget the very important facts above. How many other companies can you think of that are so vocally behind gay rights and immigration rights? How many other non-boutique clothing manufacturers can you think of that make all of their clothing in America? How many other clothing lines showcase models that have a little bit of cellulite, a little bit of love handles, or a little bit of nooks, crannies, pimples, or imperfections?

Of course we can not neglect the elephant in the room, the hyper-sexual business dealings within the company. Yes, the owner likes to share his pickle. Yes, the owner likes to hire young girls he shares his pickle with and give them upper managerial positions at the company. Yes, these same young girls make big decisions for the company. Yes, all of this is kind of gross. As a young woman was it frustrating to see and hear stories of my peers getting ahead by giving head? Of course, but as I’ve come to realize, that’s just the way it is. It’s never going to change. That crap happens within companies worldwide. American Apparel was just brazen about it. And if it’s any consolation to the people who objected to this behavior, this practice could be a large part of why the company has failed.

Now, American Apparel could be saved again. Charney could be ousted and the company redesigned. Or the company could shut down it’s retail stores and continue to where it once became as a clothing wholesaler. Regardless, there is no denying that American Apparel has progressively sunk deeper and deeper into a tight spot. Maybe American Apparel’s time on this Earth was meant to be a short one. To show people that a company can be based in America and can produce materials at low cost while still taking care of it’s employees. That you can use your employees as models for your brand. That a Mom & Pop feel can exist in the international company. That you can build a successful company on principals that matter most to you and also can support other causes. Maybe it was also created to show what not to do when you have a good thing going.

What do you think of American Apparel?