June 19, 2014

"[T]he clearest signal yet that the fashion industry has finally hit porn chic fatigue."

 American Apparel ousts CEO Dov Charney.
It only took repeated allegations of sexual misconduct. And... a net loss of $106 million in 2013 and a $37 million loss in 2012....

As a brand, it also relied on provocative advertising campaigns to give its mostly generic wares a lucrative sizzle. Those ads often featured crude snapshots of young female employees in compromising position...

[I]t’s hard not to connect American Apparel’s porn-ish advertising with Charney’s own views about women....
That's Robin Givhan in WaPo. What is Charney accused of? Here:
Charney has been the subject of several lawsuits alleging inappropriate sexual conduct with female employees. He has acknowledged having sexual relationships with workers, but said they were consensual.
How can you "brand" your clothes as transgressively sexual when transgressive sex is going on?

12 comments:

Saint Croix said...

They put pubes on the mannequins. Cool!

Saint Croix said...

Apparently pubic hair is the no-no.

I remember when feminists used to be hairy. Now they're all "shave it or die!"

I can't wait for the musical.

Hair! Down there!

madAsHell said...

What the fuck does transgressive mean?

Yes, I'm to lazy to google because that word is somewhere near feminism.....it is frequently hi-jacked for whatever we want it to mean.

Zach said...

It's not so much that their ads look like porn. It's that they look like sleazy porn. They look like Charney lured underage women into a basement, plied them with wine coolers, and took compromising photos with a Polaroid camera.

Seriously:
https://www.google.com/search?q=american+apparel+ad&client=firefox-a&hs=SrC&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&channel=sb&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=g7ijU4pu1tugBLjygpgD&ved=0CB4QsAQ&biw=1280&bih=695

The models' expressions are sullen or vacant. The poses are awkward. The lighting is harsh.

These are the sorts of photos they take if you get into the creepy van.

tim in vermont said...

I guess it isn't so much a problem with his attempts at branding, but rather the size of the market.

I used to listen to a Sirius station called "Outlaw Country." They celebrated outlaws in their music. Then they bring up that Republican governor who took off to see his girlfriend and said he was on the Appalachian Trail and I though to myself "Here is an outlaw, they are going to dedicate a song to him." Nope, Mojo Nixon just described him as another Republican scumbag. I don't think I have listened to that station since, I don't even think I could find it on the dial.

Your brand has to be authentic, but also, the market has to be large enough to support it.

tim in vermont said...

madAsHell,

Google has a great feature where if you type in "define:" then the word, it gives you a straight up definition. Of course it keeps trying to suggest searches without the colon, which will defeat the purpose, but nothing is perfect.

damikesc said...

Always nice to see CEOs held to a higher standard than Presidents.

St. George said...

From the WP Givhan article:

"The fashion industry often walks the line between sexual titillation, impropriety and downright smuttiness. The balancing act can be invigorating. Exploring a gray area can be edifying."

She's as creepy as he is, the only difference being that the more she writes about "edifying" fashion the more money the WP makes. The guy would still be CEO if his clothes were selling.

Incidentally, "edifying" means "providing moral or intellectual instruction."

Yes, of course, exploring the "gray" area between titillation and smuttiness offers "moral Instruction." Ha.

Saint Croix said...

Now I'm wondering who the audience is supposed to be for this sort of ad. Men, right? My reaction to that ad is what's her name? What's her phone number? What's her name, what's her name, what's her name?

It's entirely possible that a man would see that ad and want to buy those panties for his girlfriend. So you would run that ad in men's magazines, right? Playboy. That ad should run in Playboy.

And yet I've never seen an ad like that in any men's magazine. And if I did I wouldn't notice the clothes, anyway.

That market--men buying panties for their girlfriends--has to be far, far smaller than women buying panties for themselves.

American Apparel reported a net loss of $106 million in 2013 and a $37 million loss in 2012.

I like the ad, but I'm not the market. Or, if I am the market, your company is in trouble.

Here's a woman's reaction to the ad...

"Pubic hair is thought of as gross and undesirable now. It used to just be titillating but now it is thought of as icky, or at least untamed, so it signifies something unruly, slightly gross and out of control..."

She's not noticing the clothes, either!

Women are your market. Your ads should appeal to women. That's why these ads are seen as "transgressive." The man who came up with this ad campaign, the man who shot the photograph, these men are creating images that appeal to men. But men are not the market!

gerry said...

Yes, I'm to lazy to google because that word is somewhere near feminism.....it is frequently hi-jacked for whatever we want it to mean.

Egad. Does that make you post-transgressive?

No one knows this, but I'm passive transgressive. My microtransgressivism is so passive that it tends to be pseudotransgressive, although it may be merely quasitransgressive.

Saint Croix said...

It's not so much that their ads look like porn. It's that they look like sleazy porn.

Have you actually seen porn? This is R-rated stuff. You want to say it's edgy soft porn, okay. But it's still soft porn.

They're not showing much of anything. It's all suggestion, and quite tame by the standards of Playboy. And of course Playboy is tame by the standards of porn.

The models' expressions are sullen or vacant. The poses are awkward. The lighting is harsh.

These are the sorts of photos they take if you get into the creepy van.


That's not at all my reaction. I think they're sexual, provocative, arty. I like 'em. But I'm not the market. I think that's the big problem.

Imagine operating a strip club with beautiful women taking off their clothes. And your business model is that women will come in and spend money. That's what we have here. They're marketing to the wrong gender.

Sam L. said...

I'm going with "losses, big, two each" as the real reason.