Friday, July 3, 2009

Buying American.... Apparel

Buying American.... Apparel

I'm not much of an American Apparel fan. I mean, I don't go into their store and shop. I'm not a hipster after all. I do like the fact that their shirts actually fit in the size that they claim to be. Too often I have tried a large shirt that felt like an extra large shirt. But the ones from American Apparel seem to be pretty dead on.

When I'm buying Threadless shirts (I swear, I'm not a hipster!) I usually jump up when I see there's an AA version of it. I mean, threadless shirts shrink enough as is, might as well get the right fit, right?

One thing that they have been pretty much gung-ho about is legalizing L.A., meaning that they want to make it easier for any worker, no matter who or what nation you claim home, to work here. To add to that, they pay a pretty decent wage. It's not by any means a sweat shop. Though, with the latest news, I'm sure everyone is going to start tossing that phrase around.

Let's face it. We associate them with the perv company owner and making hipster clothes. Well, that's why this story is sort of funny. You see, it's a simple matter that it's poor people are making the clothes for hipsters who want to pay a lot of money to look ironically poor. Whoa. Thats like when you're at a haircut salon and the mirrors are just bouncing back and forth forever.

I guess I shouldn't be too surprised, but American Apparel found to have 1,600 undocumented workers.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement believes that about one-third of American Apparel Inc.'s Los Angeles work force isn't eligible to work in the country.

ICE said 1,600 employees appear not to be authorized to work in the U.S., American Apparel disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing late Tuesday. Those employees appear to have obtained employment by providing documentation which ICE believes to be suspect and not valid, American Apparel said.

ICE wasn't able to verify the employment eligibility of a further 200 employees because of discrepancies in these employees' records, the company said.

The company said ICE representatives conducted an inspection in January to check the company's compliance with immigration law.

American Apparel, which is based in Los Angeles, said that if the employees aren't able to provide proper documentation, they will be forced to leave the company. It said losing the affected employees wouldn't have a material effect on its business. The company said it intends to continue to cooperate with regulators.

ICE's notification provided no indication that the company knowingly or intentionally hired unauthorized aliens and no criminal charges have been filed against the company or any current employees, according to the company's filing.

American Apparel Chief Executive Dov Charney has been an advocate for immigration reform and boasts that his trendy t-shirts and other items are made "sweatshop-free."

"It is the company's hope -- and my personal hope as an immigrant myself -- that these employees are able to confirm their work authorization so that they may continue to work at American Apparel," Mr. Charney said in a prepared statement.

American Apparel in May agreed to pay $5 million to filmmaker Woody Allen to end a lawsuit accusing the retailer of unauthorized use of the director's image in an ad campaign.

In danger of default earlier in the year, the company secured $80 million in capital from private-equity firm Lion Capital LLP.

On the one hand, employment for immigrants is rather nice, on the other hand.. you have the demise of American Apparel thus making hipster wear a thing of the past.... Tough choice. I mean, what's so wrong with paying illegal immigrants a fair wage (well, at least min. wage) and not abusing them? Well, at least not sexually harassing them too often. This is American Apparel after all.

I'm not entirely sure I'm agreeing with the outrage this is causing. I can't really be upset at a company providing well-paying jobs to thousands and not whoring out their manufacturing to the cheapest bidder who inevitably exploits the 3rd world for their products. If anything, the only whoring done here is to the models that adorn the bus stops and ads that AA does.

I even got into an argument about this. There take on all this was:
There are plenty of legal immigrants and natural born citizens that need fucking jobs right now. Also they pay the illegal immigrants a fair wage that's a shitload less than they would normally pay their workers. It's fucking bullshit I don't care what you faggots say. I do a lot of work in factories and you see it so much it starts to fucking piss you off. Especially when you have friends who are basically starving because they can't find a job.

I'm not saying fuck illegal immigrants, I'm saying fuck the scumbag employers.
To that I say... Um... "Waaaaaaaaah. My friends were born on the correct side of this arbitrary line.... They deserve jobs!!!"

I mean, seriously, what kind of thought process makes you think that immigrants don't spend their money and/or contribute to the society they're considered illegal aliens of?

The problem here is that AA has some really poor verification practices in that all these workers had paper work.. the only thing was that it's fake paper works. So the workers are still paying into taxes, and not getting a refund by the way. They're also paying social security.. under whatever fake number they put on the application of course. So they're still putting into the pot. If anything, they're not getting anything back from that pot. If they have an injury or need to go to the doctor, they can't pull anything out of that pot.

As for the jobs. It's not like AA was exclusivly hiring illegals to pay them less than normal workers. To them, they were normal workers. But now with 1,600 job openings, I'm sure whoever wanted to work in a fair wage sweat shop can knock themselves out. I'm pretty sure there's not going to be that many takers on the whole thing.

What other companies are marketed as all american and yet abuse the workers to no end with piss poor wages? Probably the beer companies like anheuser-busch and miller.. toss in Coors to the list. So really, can we drop this "MADE IN AMERICA, BY AMERICANS!" bullshit. NAFTA already killed that American dream a long time ago. Especially if you're so used to paying dirt cheap prices from Wal-mart and other super centers. It's not going to be easy to keep those low prices when the workers unionize... which, while I am a union worker, isn't always a thing that is great for the employer.

Besides, can you really get mad at the quality of the product? Though the shirts do come in at a little tight and well, I haven't been into an AA for.. um... ever really. I've never been into one. I buy them online or through other vendors like Threadless or those wholesellers that get them from AA.

These are pretty specific shirts. Add in that they're not making a whole lot off each shirt sold. Whole sellers sell them for about $10 on ebay and the stores price of $20 seems to be on scale for what they charge the whole sellers to buy them. A whopping $5 bucks or so. They're cheap.. but they're not made cheap. On average, I've found that my AA shirts last about a week or two longer than a regular shirt given the work out I put it through.

So it's no wonder that hipsters attach themselves to this brand. It does have a throw back to the fashion of the 70's-80's and fashion, much like Television and anything else really, goes in 20 year cycles. Those that grew up with whatever it is they grew up with, will make it popular again when they have the power to.

So the claims that American Apparel clothes are basically over priced plain wal-mart t-shirts. Those people have not worn American Apparel. It's much different and thus that claim doesn't have a leg to stand on.

Now, this doesn't even touch the promotion of this product. You know, all the pictures that I have put into this blog entery.. Yeah, those. I have no way to really defend those nor would I. It's pretty much know that the owner of AA is a weird perv with all manner of harassment/assault charges against him by his employees and others. But what does that have to do with this article?

Look at Michael Jackson. He may have been a perv that was on trial a couple of times for questionable practices with kids.. but he still made Thriller, one of the best all time albums. Ha ha! It's often the really strange that create the really great. I think the ads are a little creepy... Ok, a lot creepy.

I mean, half of them look like they're a photo or two away from the one that a child molestor gets tossed in jail for. But that has nothing to do with AA's practices as a company... well, at least not the behind the scenes practices. Their ad department is just really strange and really lacking in clothes.

But at least this method of finding illegal aliens is a whole lot better than busting doors and taking people from their families in the middle of the night. You have to give it to the workers though, they're trying hard to make a living in this city and they're contributing to the pot, no matter what anyone says.

Besides, even if they're hiring illegals, they're still doing a lot of good. I mean, they also hire porn stars as well for their marketing. So while they don't put much clothes on the models for the ads, at least it's a lot more clothes than those same models would be wearing during their day job. Who said that AA doesn't care to make you feel casual... or as if some creepy guy is taking pictures of you with a polaroid camera.

I mean, it's not like they were the first ones to ever go with the "Sex sells" mentality. Besides, I have to say, that ad is pretty god damn hot. I think I want to get me some of those socks... not for me, of course. Hey, they're tapping into an untouched market of porn stars, right?

Then again that ad is pretty tame considering the other ads that they've released. Even if the ad is making a reference that the gal, who you should NOT google image while you're at work, is getting it on.

I'm sure all of these final comments aren't helping my case and if anything, are negating all the positive things I said about the company. Yup. Now you're thinking that they're just some pervs with nothing to add.. other than a good amount of business to the local economy to the state of California, which I hear has had a budget problem. Hmmmm.

Well, if that's the case, I'll just leave you with this funny piece that you'll agree with and laugh along with me at. Why? Because it's so true.

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