Ethical Shopping: American Apparel Scandals

Gather ’round children, I’m about to tell you how much American Apparel sucks as a brand.

Sure, you may justify your ridiculous purchase of a basic, white v-neck t-shirt for $20 in the fact that they don’t abuse sweatshop labor in another country  but that’s your choice.

I choose not to shop there firstly because I can’t afford to pay that much for a basic shirt and secondly because they’re not a company I like. It’s important to shop with companies you can support because your money is funding their endeavours. Consumers really don’t know how much power they have.

In 2010, American Apparel was sued by a terminated employee. Oh yeah, and that employee was terminated because they had cancer. Yeah, cancer. American Apparel fires cancer patients. Think about that the next time you wear a $35 crop top.  Furthermore, American Apparel has also come under fire for asking employees to take a full-body picture and allegedly “firing the ugly ones.” Sorry, pretty people only.

In 2011 a factory worker DIED on the job. There goes your previous argument for buying their stuff. However, their excellent PR team called it a “freak accident” and are “fully committed to worker health and safety.” You know, when they aren’t calling them ugly.

In 2013, American Apparel and it’s former CEO, Dov Charney, faced multiple allegations of improper sexual conduct in the work place. The accusations are, and are not limited to: forced oral sex, public masturbation, rape and unwelcome sexual advances. However, Charney chalks up the accusations to “just another side effect of success.” Sorry, but being a pig isn’t a package deal with success.

But that isn’t it for Charney’s indiscretions. His résumé includes calling his employees racial slurs as well as chucking dirt at an employee’s face. Don’t believe me? Here’s the statement in the police report:


Lastly, the most crucial point is their use of overtly sexual ads. To most, American Apparel ads are on the brink of soft-core porn and are especially exploitative of women. There isn’t a single American Apparel ad that I’ve ever seen where a model, male or female, is fully-dressed. These ads are so racy that they’ve been banned in the UK. Now, you may be thinking: isn’t this audacious and daring like your blog tells me to be? The difference in being audacious and being exploitative is that you aren’t hurting the image of the another especially when we, as women, are constantly fighting the oversexualization of our gender. It’s hard to overcome inequality when we’re undermining our own argument.

However, as American Apparel made the decision to fire Charney this past December, it seems that he has not really left. On March 18, American Apparel released an open casting call for “real” models that read:

“Company is going through a rebranding image so will be shooting models moving forward. Real models. Not Instagram hoes or THOTS.


For those who haven’t read in a while, a THOT is an acronym for “That Hoe Over There.” However, the note was supposed to be an inside joke, yet they used it as an open casting call. Last time I checked, you don’t tell an inside joke to everyone. Maybe that’s just me though. Since then, they have apologized for the joke and want to move forward.

With the replacement of their CEO and their “rebranding” American Apparel may try to become a decent company to shop for. However, their checkered past has proven to me otherwise. Therefore, I choose not to shop there. I think it’s important for people to know where their money is going to. Yeah you may look good, but how are your actions affecting others?

Just some food for thought.



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