A while ago I was thinking about Fashion and ethics. I feel like it should be thought about more, because in general, I think a lot of people, me included, don't think about where their clothes come from, or what values the places they shop have, or whether they agree with the way in which that company operates. It's a very interesting topic for discussion. On this topic, for a few years now one brand has been catching my eye in the way of Fashion ethics: American Apparel.
Previous to checking them out, I'd heard a lot of bad things about American Apparel. Over the years they've had a lot of bad press due to people saying that their advertisements are overly sexual and they over-sexualise the models in their campaigns. From all this complaining I was expecting them to be a company with no morals, living up to the bad name the press had given them. However, when I checked them out myself, I was wrong. And so were the press it seemed.
American Apparel actually have more sense of morality than most other companies. Firstly, all of their clothes are sweatshop-free, meaning that their workers are paid fairly and work in safe, comfortable, and not overcrowded environments. Secondly, they don't discriminate on grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, age, gender, or anything else when searching for employees and models. Another thing that I love about them is that on their site and in a lot of their advertisements, their models aren't all dolled up with loads of makeup and perfect hair. I'm not against people who wear lots of makeup at all, but we all know that usual models are a world away from how ordinary people look, so when I saw the fresh-faced, average-looking, but still inarguably stylish and sexy models on the AA site, it was quite refreshing. American Apparel also believe in clothes that are not fashionable, but stylish, in that they're simple, well-made, flattering, classic and easily coordinated, as opposed to outrageous modern trend clothing that goes out of fashion as quickly as it came in, making their clothes long-lasting and economical. And the cherry on top of it all is that as a company, they actively support and fight for rights within the LGBT community; they've done a lot of work on this in the past and a lot of their t-shirts have pro-LGBT-rights slogans printed on them.
And as for their "overly sexual campaigns", after checking them out I really think it's been totally blown out of proportion by the media. Sure, there's some nudity in places, and sometimes the models aren't wearing underwear underneath their clothing, but it's done in a tasteful way. It's not provocative and sexual, it's more liberating and appreciative of the human form, in the way that an artist would photograph and paint a nude body. In a way, I feel that American Apparel's ads are less sexual than other companies' ads purely because they acknowledge that a body is a body and we all have one and that's okay and it's okay to show it because it's just a body, not a sexual object used to sell products, as other companies do with their provocative advertisements.
Needless to say, I'm hooked. Not only do I support everything they believe in, but their clothes are awesome, and I find that things I've bought around two years ago are still stylish right now: they never lose their aesthetic appeal. I order from them all the time, I'm a total AA junkie. Sure, some of their items are a little more pricey than you'd find on the high street, but at least you can sleep soundly in the knowledge that you're wearing an item made in a sweatshop-free environment by a company that respects human beings from all backgrounds and that has values and morals which are good and honest. And that's something you can't put a price on.
American Apparel, you have a huge thumbs up from me.