Cookie banner

This site uses cookies. Select "Block all non-essential cookies" to only allow cookies necessary to display content and enable core site features. Select "Accept all cookies" to also personalize your experience on the site with ads and partner content tailored to your interests, and to allow us to measure the effectiveness of our service.

To learn more, review our Cookie Policy, Privacy Notice and Terms of Use.

clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

American Apparel: You've Fooled Us One Too Many Times

New, 5 comments

Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.

You know Frank—he's been writing about menswear, sales, television, new shops, the recession, Lisa Loeb, the Golden Girls and getting blasted for Racked and Racked New York for over a year. Well, we think it's time you got to know him and his quirky-irreverent views on life and fashion (which—as far as he's concerned—are essentially the same thing) even better with his brand new column: Love, Frank. Taking the form of an open letter and always signed with love, Frank will rant about whatever style-related conundrum he encounters in a given week. So buckle your two-toned leather Moschino belts, folks, it's going to be ? Something.

Screen grab via American Apparel

Dear American Apparel,

Boy did you have us fooled. When you rolled on into town several years back you had us at hello—all those colors! Those almost-cheap prices! Finally, we could fulfill our long-standing dream of matching every aspect of our outfit to every other aspect of our outfit.

Who needed a plain white tee when you could pop on a still plain but turquoise or magenta or mustard or plum or coral tee that just happened to match exactly that (purely hypothetical) turquoise belt or magenta pair of Vans or mustard cardigan or plum-trimmed Fred Perry track jacket or coral Lacoste polo we had needed so badly but realized once home were all virtually unwearable.

(It was a matchier time.)

We fell hard—we ended up with drawers full of tees and polos and socks; a symphony of Crayola-hued trackies and hoodies; a Whitman's Sampler of ludicrous and now-embarassing underwear; and jeans and cords in colors neither jeans nor cords were ever meant to come in. And that was really just icing—we truly liked shopping by. The company had a penchant for hiring all of our pierced, art school friends with their dyed hair and wacky make-up. We liked the music—because our friends were picking it. And it was the only place in Boston that reliably had copies of Vice on hand.

We also always really liked those leafy succulent plants that are all over all the shops. Can anyone identify those things—we want one.

Now American Apparel is in the business of '80s preppery—and tardy to the party we might add. They're shilling oxford shirts with button down collars and shirt dresses and knit vests and raglan pullovers and sailor-inspired blazers and jacquards and something called a Fisherman's Pullover—all alongside Red Wing footwear. Did somebody say J.Crew?

A massive aesthetic shift like that doesn't occur in a vacuum. All our pierced, art school friends with their dyed hair and wacky make-up? God knows where they've ended up—it's not like there are any openings at the three record stores left in this country. American Apparels across the land are now staffed exclusively by naturally-browed '80s Brook Shields look-a-likes and their blond, stubbly prep-school-rebel male counterparts. Tattoos and jewelry, dyed-hair and make-up? All way too subversive and counter-culture for that crisp and clean, all-American Apparel.

(Nevermind the company's snakey, pornmonster CEO.)

So, yeah, there's all that, obviously. But why are we done with American Apparel, right here and right now?

We bought a pair of their corduroys in tan about 18 months ago. We wore them twice before one side of the left back pocket ripped off and proceeded to patch them up ourselves. We wore them maybe three more times before the right back pocket ripped off on one side. We brought them into the store and the naturally-browed bitch at the counter barely gave us the time of day so we took the pants to a friend and expert-sewer who reinforced the left back pocket and repaired the right back pocket. When we finally got them back and we popped 'em on and that left right pocket? Well, it ripped off along the opposite side. Finally we brought them to a tailor who fixed and reinforced both pockets. We paid up and put 'em on late last week and within minutes the entire crotch just bust open.

We'd like to note that these pants are not tight; we'd venture to say they're too big—especially in the waist. They've barely been washed because they've barely been worn. And now they're in the trash can next to our chest of drawers—a chest filled with American Apparel tees that despite all being a size medium each fit uniquely (we have tunics, we have crop tops—take your pick)—like candy-colored, cotton snowflakes. Crappy, candy-colored cotton snowflakes.

So American Apparel—we're done. You've had us snookered long enough. Peace out—if you need us we'll be at the Gap or Uniqlo.

· Love, Frank [RNA]