American Apparel’s brand promise was a unique mix of “clothes made in the USA” and porn. The company alleged it manufactured things in a responsible way. (Mass layoffs earlier this year of the illegal workers who made their product in the USA did away with that one.) AmAp’s approach to marketing is best described as an NC17 version of “nothing comes between me and my Calvin’s.”
For most businesses this would have just been another horrid example of sex sells. For AmAp it seems to have been a reflection of CEO Dov Charney’s “issues.” Charney, who took most of the pictures of company employees used in the ads, was the defendant in so many sex-harassment law suits that you couldn’t keep track of them.The wonderful practices didn’t stop there – no surprise. AmAp was also accused of firing employees who weren’t attractive enough and, Gawker reported that,
Perhaps this explains CEO Dov Charney’s support of immigration reform? In fairness to American Apparel, the company gained no financial advantage using the illegal workers. All workers are paid above minimum wage, receive subsidized health care and meals, and can participate in free English classes. The company has also long been on record for complaining how easy it is to fake the papers needed for employment.
Also in fairness, I would be remiss in not mentioning that Mr. Charney has more recently been in the news because he is being sued by Woody Allen over the use of an image from Annie Hall. The irony of these two “personal boundary impaired” men going to court is wonderful. Mr. Allen of course married his step daughter a few years ago. Mr. Charney, whose brand specializes in near-pornographic advertising, is frequently the photographer for these campaigns which use employees as models.