American Apparel: Exploitation to the Highest Elevation
Lifestyle and marketing through social media platforms, such as Instagram, has increased company sales exponentially. Well-known, “Made in the USA” brand, American Apparel has continually sought after its minimalistic customers through heavy media presence. Clay Shirky’s “Here Comes Everybody” suggests that social media democratization has secured a “unified freedom of speech” in a society that encourages the publication of anyone that wants to have a voice in these social media outlets (79). American Apparel’s Instagram presence has created a feed of the brand’s current aesthetic, showing no evidence of the risqué and ...view middle of the document...
Companies are required to distinguish themselves as connectors, even if some of the people they employ are not.
American Apparel uses Instagram as a place to connect their customers and allows them to “shop our feed”. This platform provides an outlet of unification where their follower base can get a taste of pleats, short skirts, Keds, mock neck tops, striped tube socks , and heavy denim - the whole “90’s is still cool” vibe. The photos feature an array of model diversity, geometrical backgrounds, and setting of R.Vs, pools, and bedrooms. While women are still heavily featured on the feed, confidently portraying the ideal AA lifestyle, the central idea of women empowerment - a topic that the new CEO has stated that the brand wants to encompass – is not blatantly visible. A longtime follower of the brand would argue that although this type of brand aesthetic is nothing new for the company, it has visibly toned down the vulgarity of its images within the past few months. Even since the latter months of 2014 with former CEO in place, Dov Charney, it was not a surprise to log onto a news media website to find that American Apparel was fighting yet another lawsuit against discrimination. Creating an Instagram Lookbook filled with people of multiple races is just a single marketing tactic that reinstates “we aren’t so bad after all”.
Shirky provides an excellent point in when one “surveyed the amount of self-published content on the internet, many media companies currently understood that the trustworthiness of each outlet was lower than that of established outlets. The same idea, published in dozens or hundreds of places can have an amplifying effect that outweighs the verdict” (65). Last March, I remember reading an article backlashing an email scandal sent within the American Apparel headquarters. It was written by a photoshoot coordinator advertising the next public casting call for their infamous advertisements, however this specific message was meant to be received by models already in their incubator, who have already worked with the company before. It was a request for real models - “no Instagram hoes” welcome, it read, in reference to the multitude of ads released by AA in the past, explicitly underlining the notion of schoolgirls performing sexual acts in effort to promote their clothing. This story created a public outroar, being published from nearly every news site – from the credible, New York Times and Vogue Magazine to more undermined sources, including Buzzfeed. While trusted sources and bloggers alike covered the incident, the enormous amount of coverage the story received pointed the question of trustworthiness not at the news sites, but at American Apparel itself.
In his novel, Gladwell gave an example of a guy named Horchow who represented one of the many connectors of the world. “The people he puts in his diary or on his computer are acquaintances – people he might run into only a year or once every few years – and he...