July 25, 2010

American Apparel Still Sucks: Deep Inside the Brand

American Apparel sucks.

With hiring and firing practices that include only hiring “attractive” people; their pervy, porny ads featuring waifish, jail bait models some call reminiscent of kiddie porn; and the arrogant, sexist founder and CEO, Dov Charney, a guy who “masturbated in front of a reporter, sleeps with his employees, promotes hot 17-year-olds to replace veterans,” “sweat-shop free” or not, why would anyone shop or work there?

Well, for one thing, it’s a job in an economic climate that makes landing even a low-paying retail job harder and harder to come by. And, lots of young things are attracted to the very idea of working for a company that has such picky hiring standards. If you’re hired, well, that must mean you’re special and super hot.

In fact, that is exactly the reason a former employee started working for Dov’s retail porn palace and, in the end, the reason I received this letter chronicling the dirty details so many employees have come forth with lately. The details of the following letter aren’t a novelty (see letter after the jump). In fact, stories like these have become commonplace for American Apparel and Charney which is why this letter is worth posting.

After multiple sexual harassment suits and similar exposes, what is striking about this letter is the fact that nothing has changed. Charney is so arrogant and confident in himself and his “politically progressive,” “hipster” brand image that the public masturbation, bedding of employees and controversial hiring, firing and at-work practices continue blatantly and without apology.

Despite the recent “outting” of “celebrity” owner Dov Charney and American Apparel’s hostile, overtly sexual work environment and hiring practices may still seem outrageous and too crazy to believe, I can confirm that they are all100% accurate.

How do I know?

As an employee at American Apparel, I have not only have seen these practices performed on hundreds of applicants, I have been subjected to these policies repeatedly.

Before I started working at American Apparel I could proudly say that I was confident in my identity. I was a young, happy, spontaneous and care-free student who, like many of peers, was looking for a job to earn some cash. After applying and getting rejected by hundreds of different retail stores, restaurants and small offices in my area based on my lack of experience, I turned to American Apparel, a company that I thought I would never work for, primarily because experience was not a necessity or requirement.

In essence, it was the only job I could get.

Currently the largest clothing manufacturer in the land of the free and home of the brave, American Apparel is a brand that creates fashionable basics for anyone that doesn’t have breasts or ideally weighs under 115 pounds. The clothes are also, lets face it, cheap as hell and can easily be damaged or ruined as they are badly sewn and made out of cheap cotton and polyester.

If we come in looking, “off brand” or are wearing something that is not in season, they can take a picture, send that photo to corporate, and fire us immediately if they consider our choice of wardrobe to be detrimental to the company’s image. While that already seems terrible enough, it gets even worse when everyone in the company is power hungry and if a manager or auditor for the company really doesn’t like you or your clothes, they can also use this simple firing tool as a way for them to eliminate your presence in the company.

I have seen it happen time and time again.

There was once an employee that did great work during their short time with the company, however their look, weight, size and even hair color didn’t represent what American Apparel wanted, so they fired that employee in the middle of their shift.

Pretty classy, right?

So why stay with a company like this? Well, and this is the part where all of you will probably hate me, they make you feel wanted. To think that you were chosen out of thousands of applicants makes you feel kinda special and despite being told by my employees that I needed to lose weight (in the general population I am considered thin), I still felt that I was more special and beautiful than the rest of the general population because I worked for American Apparel.

One day during work my outfit was deemed, “off brand,” so I was sent home. Another day I was told that I looked “fat” in my outfit, so they told me to work in the back of the store. Days like those made me feel ugly, worthless and inadequate, but I stayed with the company because I wanted to prove to them that I was chosen for a reason. Pretty sick, I know, but the company sucks you into their cool hipster club of “individuals.” You weren’t just any retail worker, you were an American Apparel worker. You got to eat lunch with the cool kids and were getting pay checks for being trendy and different.

Getting chosen as one of the kids that gets to work for a selective company also meant that you had to find more cool kids to join, because you couldn’t be popular unless you had a following. Any employee of the store is allowed to “recruit” or “scout” for potential employees meaning that if we ever saw someone in the store or on the street that we thought was cute, fun, or looked like they wanted to do Dov’s dick, we could ask to take a picture of their face and full body, “head-to-toe.” We would then email their photos to work@americanapparel.net where the company would then judge their “style.”

But recruiting comes with a perk!

Let’s say we recruit someone that eventually gets hired, the company will then give the recruiter an extra $100 on their next pay check. But wait, there is more! Let’s say they are really hot and ready to suck (seriously!), you can get $200! And yes, it has happened before when two employees discover that their recruiter received $100 for one person and $200 for another…messed up? No, its just business.

With pleasure.

For those still interested in working for American Apparel, I would like to provide some advice on how to get a job:

Rule #1: Don’t apply unless you are under 21. Not only is American Apparel a sexist company, they are also youth obsessed. If you are pushing 20, you better look at least 16 or else your chances are pretty slim.

Rule #2: Be 14. If you are in middle school and want a job really bad, American Apparel is the perfect place for you! That’s right, practically no age is too young for the company and if you have just started to hit puberty, then American Apparel sounds like the perfect fit as, “Minimum age requirements vary by state to state / province to province. In many cases you do not need to be 18 to apply, although minors will need parental permission.”

Rule #3. Be ethnically ambiguous. American Apparel likes mixed raced people and if you are mixed with anything, it better be Asian. Dov’s gotta sex thing for Asians. Business week magazine writes, “In their sexual harassment suits, two of the women accuse Charney of exposing himself to them. One claims he invited her to masturbate with him and that he ran business meetings at his Los Angeles home wearing close to nothing. Another says he asked her to hire young women with whom he could have sex, Asians preferred. All describe him using foul language in their presence, much of it demeaning to women. Says Keith A. Fink, an attorney for one of the women suing: “The work environment there makes Animal House look like choir practice.”

Rule #4. Black girls, no need in applying. If you do apply, be sure that you are made to look euro-centric and that your hair doesn’t remotely look the way it was made to be. So basically for a company that stresses on a “natural” image….do everything in your power to make yourself unnatural by changing your image to a classy-vintage-chique-late 80’s-early 90’s-ralph lauren-vogue-nautical-high end snotty caucasian with asian leaning slut. Relax or weave that shit up ladies. Anyone in the mood for a game of, “I spy with my little eye…a model that is of African descent?”

Try to find one, I dare you.

Rule #5: Represent the “American Apparel” image. When you come to your potential interview or ask if we are hiring in one of our store, be sure to look like you just snorted a few lines, had sex with a stranger and just rolled out of bed looking fabulously chic in all American Apparel clothes. That’s the best way to describe their image and if you already come dressed like that, your chances are already looking better.

Rule #6: Don’t apply online. That’s reserved for ugly people who come into the store asking for a job. So if you come in and ask if we are hiring and we say, “We are currently accepting applications online,” that is us telling you that, “you are ugly, have no style and that you couldn’t work for us even if pigs started to fly in the sky.”

Once you have been hired…

Rule #7: Give a good hand job. Or blow job. Just don’t do your job. American Apparel is notorious for having employees move up within the company…but how do they do it? Or should I rephrase that to who do they do? Basically anyone with some sort of power within the company is fuck-able and should be by no means considered off-limits. That means customers too. If you gotta big mouth and want to go down on someone in the dressing room, go right ahead! It’s happened before.

American Apparel is all about, “doing your job,” and watching people, “grow,” within the company. Who…or what…”grows,” within the company is all possible by referring to Rule #7 of course. The American Apparel Job Opportunities page states, “It is not uncommon for people in the store to grow into retail management, district management, retail operation, merchandising, graphic design, public relations, product development and creative positions. As much as possible, we try to promote people from within, and we are not opposed to advancing people quickly who are most qualified. We are always looking for new talent.”

The “qualification,” to grow within the company is similar to getting the qualification needed to get hired within the company….there is none. Well, at least none related to actually working the retail job.  So if you happen to meet Dov, show him your “work” orally in his office, car or house and you could easily become one his auditors, district managers or house pets. Like stated in Rule #7, everyone and anyone is deemed fuckable and if you got it, flaunt it because that is how practically everyone with a position got theirs.

And that is not kept a secret.

What else can you expect once you work for American Apparel? You have the pleasure of working with 15 year old employees that can’t spell.  You will spend an hour before work nervous and scared that you outfit is potentially “off brand.” You know that while you were chosen to work for the company, you still might not be good enough to remain within the company. You will have to finger space hangers and edge clothes until you go insane. You will have to lie to customers and say that a piece of cheap cotton is worth spending the extra money on because American Apparel is “politically progressive.” You will have to watch underage girls flirt with customers to make greater sales. You will have to tell perfectly beautiful applicants that they just aren’t good enough to work for American Apparel. You will have to cut hanging threads off of clothes to make the outfits look better then they actually are and fool customers to think they are buying well made clothes. You will have to hear stories about Dov forcing your co workers to give him head.

And the last, and hardest thing you have to do,  is explain to your family and friends why you chose to work for American Apparel.


7 Comments »

  1. Wow. This was the last nail in AA’s coffin for me. Being uncool and off brand, I don’t buy their style of clothes anyways and therefore have never shopped there or seen reason to. But hopefully this will make it easier for me to convince my sister to boycott them.

    Comment by scary joann — July 26, 2010 @ 10:58 am

  2. this is absolutely brilliant.

    Comment by sarit — July 26, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  3. [...] it has never made much of an effort to hide it’s founder, Dov Charney‘s, pervy ways. Last year, Melanie Klein at Feminist Fatale outlined the myriad of ways in which the company has long been a terrible place for women. Charney [...]

    Pingback by American Apparel’s ‘Next Big Thing’ is a Fat Lie | Adios Barbie — September 22, 2011 @ 8:39 pm

  4. Where I live, AA’s = the cheap place where you buy ugly clothes to sleep/work out in. Never saw it as a chic/special retail store and probably never will.

    Comment by Kerry — November 6, 2011 @ 12:39 am

  5. I have never, ever heard of any of the aforementioned practices going on in the region where I work at AA. Firing people because of an outfit? Are you kidding? We have to document every write up–from being absent to performing a task incorrectly–and fax them in to corporate. Employees can’t be fired without substantial written warnings, plus proof that a manager retrained or reprimanded the employee after the warning was issued. So the idea that someone is claiming that people were fired on the spot due to an “off brand” outfit is complete B.S.

    People under 20 preferred? Again, wrong. Many sales associates are young because, duh, it’s retail, but I don’t know anyone under 22 who is any position of authority. Black girls need not apply? Again, has this person even ever worked at AA? At the stores in my region, Caucasians were–by far–the minority.

    I also need to add that I have moved up three positions since starting with this company. Did I flirt with my bosses? No. I worked my ass off, performed necessary tasks to get the job done, and found ways to improve sales. I’ve met dozens of higher ups in the company at this point and they’ve all been professional, friendly, and knowledgeable about their respective fields.

    To summarize, this person either 1) has never worked for the company and has written this article by loosely and incorrectly tying together “facts” from previous publications/employee complaints or 2) worked for an extremely poor management team who has most likely been already rooted out and fired. I know most people who actually read the comments I’ve written will dismiss me as a liar or incorrect, because at the end of the day, I’m not an idiot–I realize that people want to read some horribly perverse tales about American Apparel retail nightmares. My experiences have not been perfect (is any job experience?), but I don’t know anyone in the company who has experienced what this person is claiming to have gone through. It reads like bad fiction.

    Comment by lisa — April 11, 2012 @ 8:17 pm

  6. [...] made much of an effort to hide it’s founder, Dov Charney‘s, pervy ways. Last year, Melanie Klein at Feminist Fatale outlined the myriad of ways in which the company has long been a terrible place for women. Charney [...]

    Pingback by Progressive objectification: American Apparel's Next Big Thing | Feminist Current — June 18, 2012 @ 8:21 pm

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