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The political magazine Adbusters ran a letter to the editor criticizing our featuring a copy of their magazine in the background of one of our ads. Above is a copy of the letter to the editor, and below is a copy of our response.
July/August 2002

Dear Editor:

A recent letter from "Slandermask" attacked American Apparel for having a copy of Adbusters in the backdrop of an advertisement.

We were "adbusting" Adbusters because we love the magazine. We agree with its mission and ideology.

We make "Sweatshop Free" T-shirts. Our goal is to seek profits through innovation not exploitation.

We are advancing a hyper capitalist-socialist fusion model. By relentlessly pursuing efficiencies in management and production, we aim to make the use of exploitative labor tactics not only unnecessary but actually counterproductive. We see ourselves demonstrating that over-reliance on low-wage and ill-treated labor, like slavery at the time of the Civil War, impedes progress and technological advancement by relying on an outmoded and inhumane way of thinking about human labor potential.

Although clothing is a human necessity that transcends all cultures, most apparel is made in exploitative settings. American Apparel is at the vanguard of a new business alternative. We treat our workers with dignity and pay our experienced workers a living wage and beyond. 100% of everything we produce is sewn in our building without subcontractors. We are beginning to address environmental issues too. As a first step, we've embarked a program to recycle thousands of tons of fabric scraps annually.

We are bucking the trend in globalization that seeks profits through cheap offshore labor. We are 1000 people rooted in downtown L.A [as of April 2004, the company has 1,500 employees]. We are part of the community, our workers live nearby. We are part of its politics, we marched with workers to protest immigration policies. We are part of its culture, we offer free classes in the English language as requested by our workers. In the process, with little or no help from the financial sector, we are growing faster and more profitable on paper than almost every major T-shirt maker. We have become the largest domestic garment manufacturer. American Apparel is proving that the business-as-usual model is not even a good one.

We think that globalization in its current form has polarized design and manufacturing in such a way that it is grossly inefficient and actually necessitates human (and environmental) exploitation to perpetuate itself. This rift does not make economic sense when workers cannot even afford to consume their basic necessities and when corporations travel thousands of miles just to pay people less money. Once this inefficiency is exposed, we feel there will be a revolution in how business is conducted, a revolution which may be hastened when consumers sharply increase demand for products made without exploitation. American Apparel thinks businesses should be built according to the model proposed by philosopher Paul Hawkin, who wrote: "The ultimate purpose of business is not, or should not be, simply to make money... The promise of business is to increase the general well-being of humankind through service, creative invention and ethical philosophy."

We are activists who believe that business can be used to bring about social change. We think activists waste their efforts by attacking the corporate system. Rather, we should direct our assault on the men and women who control the corporations and challenge the values they represent. To dismiss the potentially positive uses of business corporations, like making necessities cheaper and faster for the masses, would be a missed opportunity to "topple the existing power structures and forge a major shift in the way we live in the 21st Century."

On a final note, we are dismayed that the Adbusters editorial staff failed to research our company before publishing Slandermask's letter criticizing us. Don't forget that you guys are journalists, not entertainers.

Dov Charney
Senior Partner
American Apparel