Moral Dilemma – American Apparel.

The Good

  • They don’t believe in sweatshop labor and their employees are paid 50 times more than the competition (eg. a typical American Apparel Salary is $30,000 a year with benefits).
  • Their factory is the largest sewing factory in North America (no off shoring, hooray).
  • They’re committed to the Environment and have a smaller carbon footprint than their competitors. They recycle almost all their manufacturing waste and as of 2012 they are virtually landfill-free. Their solar panels offset as much as 20% of their electrical usage, and they ship the majority of their goods to their worldwide stores via excess space on passenger flights and buses, minimizing their environmental impact.
  • They are also committed to promoting freedom of sexuality and have openly supported Gay rights with their Legalize Gay T-shirts and are proud stockists for BUTT Magazine (a world wide gay culture publication).
  • For 7 years American Apparel employees have been proudly marching for immigration reform (supporting equal opportunities for migrant workers), reflected in their Legalize LA movement and apparel.
  • They sell organic products made from 100% USDA Certified Organic and pesticide-free cotton.

The Bad

  • They have AWFUL, and I mean AWFUL, marketing techniques. The sexualisation of women is beyond reasonable. Their marketing is not gender neutral in any sense of the term. Ignore the fact that this person can’t spell “marketing” and take a look at the image below.

American Apparel Comparison

Of course I stand in a field at sunset with just my undies on, don’t you? And I never wear any pants when I’m wearing my sweatshirt. DON’T BE RIDICULOUS. I only want the top half of me to be warm. Do you see my point? So before I actually did some research (very important when adopting opinions from others), I was like “I AM GOING TO PULL ALL OF MY TSHIRT DESIGNS FROM THE PLACES I SELL THEM BECAUSE THEY USE AMERICAN APPAREL AND THEY EXPLOIT WOMEN AND I DON’T WANT TO PROFIT FROM THAT”. And I don’t, truth be told, but did you see my list of amazing things they’re doing?

Admittedly, their marketing is way off base for me, but sex sells and we’ve known that for years. Why aren’t people up in arms about the production of perfumes? They do, and have done, the exact same thing.

Hello Natalie Portman, I am very aware you’re super good looking, but why aren’t you wearing a top? Do you see what I mean? This whole American Apparel issue has been taking tumblr/the internet by storm with boycotts being threatened and 15 year olds getting all up in arms about it (bless their young innocent minds for they haven’t been subject to advertising for as long as we have). However, I do want to say good on those people, I am proud to see a generation that are aware enough of equal rights to want to take a stand against this. You go send your emails and make your phone calls (or texts, I forgot who I was talking to) and post your thoughts on the internet, but first, I believe you should do a bit more research so that you can have an informed opinion. If you still hate American Apparel after you see all the good they’ve done, then hey, that’s what freedom of speech is all about right?

Well actually…

  • What the First Amendment Says: “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech”
  • What People Think It Says: “I’m allowed to say whatever cruel and bigoted things I want, and you’re not allowed to get mad or be offended or call me on it”

But that is a debate for another day.

Anyway, I have decided that I will not take the sale of my shirts down for 2 reasons:

  1. Please refer to “The Good” section and each respective bullet point
  2. The 2 sites that I sell my designs from, although they use American Apparel tshirt’s, do not market my designs in the same manner, they are simply advertised like this:

Tshirts

 

(The above shirt is sold on society6)

I feel like I’ve now come to the end of a High School debate and I need to wrap it up with my conclusion. So, in conclusion, sex sells and will continue to sell for as long as people are willing to buy the products. It is going to take some massive shift in thoughts and social values for marketing to ever be gender neutral when it’s not being targeted at a specific gender. Quite like equality for women in the workplace, gay marriage, a true multicultural society and world peace, it won’t happen overnight, but as long as we keep chipping away at it, societal issues such as these should eventually crumble. You may be a tiny ant of a person in the grand scheme of things but you can still make a difference. Don’t ever forget that and always be as informed as you can be.

Edit (03/06/12 @ 16:44): I have since found a petition asking American Apparel to stop using sexism as a means to market their products.

27 thoughts on “Moral Dilemma – American Apparel.

  1. I don’t usually read your blog, but this was a great post. Thank you for being one of the minority with respect to using logic these days.

  2. Looks like underaged porn to me. On a different note, where can I get that shirt?! I must have it!

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  8. Hi Sarita, thanks for taking the time to read my post :) You can find the shirt at Society6 http://society6.com/elementarycreative

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