August 25, 2005

American Apparel

American Apparel is a tough call for thoughs of us on the left side of the fence. On the one hand, they're an American company that produces all of their apparel, which are evidently considered "hip" by people that would know that sort of thing, in L.A. and payes their workers a fair wage. They also use models of varying body types in their product photos, unlike the sickeningly hot people used by stores like Abercrombie & Fitch. On the other hand, the founder and C.E.O. is evidently a sex crazed maniac that masturbates in front of reporters and has sex with employees.

I know, I know, the idea of a sexified workplace *sounds* pretty sweet at first glance, but there are reasons why it's generally not an accepted practice, starting with the fact that you never want employees, especially a particular subset of the employees, say women, to feel like their job might be on the line if they don't screw the boss. And I'm not exactly in a position to be preaching about attractiveness, but I will say that Dov Charney may not be every lady's type.

So anyway, you've got your problem; support a really progressive business model that comes along with the baggage of some unsavory business practices, or denounce the company and go back to Wal-mart where we know all about the many and varied worker abuses, but the bosses don't have sex with any of them. In fact, the Wal-mart corporate honchos probably never have sex at all, on account of it being, as the kids say, teh sin.

Personally I'm willing to accept A.A. with its flaws, as long as we recognize them as definite flaws, as long as they are able to stand up to the gross abuses of their competitors, but not everyone agrees. To some femenist bloggers he's too much, and I can understand why they come to that conclusion, and wrote as much, but then encountered quite a backlash of A.A. supporting trolls. Are these independent trolls that just love hot and steamy sex along with reasonably priced garments made by well paid labor or are they working for the company itself? I suppose we could ask the Shadow. He'd probably know.

For those wondering, there are two American Apparel stores coming soon; one in North Jersey and another on the shore somewhere.


Noumena said...

AA's business practices aren't even that progressive, in an absolute sense. Yes, the workers make a living wage and I believe also get health benefits and such, but they've been blocked a few times from unionizing.

There's a similar dilemma with Whole Foods. On the one hand, their food is of extremely high quality, and they offer a much better selection of veggie alternatives and staples than your average grocery store, and the employees make good money working there. On the other hand, the owner is this crazy libertarian whose union-busting antics are starting to rival those of Wal-Mart.

MosBen said...

From my understanding Whole Foods is pretty expensive though, which prices me right out of that dilemma. Please don't tell me that there's a problem with Trader Joe's, though, because I love that store when I can get a ride there.

Noumena said...

Whole Foods is expensive if you're buying things like cereal or milk or bread, where you can get the exact same stuff in a different box for half the price at a normal grocery store.

Where Whole Foods really shines are 'veggie substitutes' -- soymilk at a normal store is about twice the cost of cow's milk, while Whole Foods brand soymilk is only about 1.5x the price. Plus they'll have four or five different brands, instead of just one, and so on. Oh, also, their brand of OJ is cheaper and tastes better than Tropicana.

I don't know much about Trader Joe's; I never lived close enough to shop at one regularly. There was like one in Chicago that I went to two or three times; their produce was crappy, but they had VEGETARIAN potstickers that were molto delizioso. Also, they actually label their cheeses if they are made with animal rennet!