Made in Downtown D.F.Philadelphia Weekly
November 23, 2006
When I first decided to come to Mexico City I got a tip from Philly party promoter and icon of awesomeness Tommy Up. It went something like this: Have you seen the newspaper American Apparel puts out? It's all about Mexico City. It's so mysterious.
So yesterday I hung out with AA employees and Mexico City Monthly contributors (from left) Julio Pineda, 25, and Mariano Rocha, 24, who filled me in on the movement behind the mystery.
The story goes like this:
Celeste is the top glossy fashion/art mag in Mexico City. It's a quarterly. They have a slightly more indie sister publication babybabybaby that comes out just twice a year. American Apparel ads can be found on the back covers of both.
One day AA's infamous boss Dov Charney is in Mexico City and is flipping through an issue of babybabybaby when he sees they've run an add showing his ass. He's thrilled. I've gotta open a store here, he says.
Not long later, American Apparel tells Mariano (who works at babybabybaby) they're going to open a store in Mexico City, and Mariano tells his friend Julio. Julio researches the brand—its workplace environment, its favorable policies towards Mexican immigration, its opportunities for employee advancement. He sends in his resume, becomes part of the Mexico City team, and while working 20-hour pizza-and-Red-Bull-fueled days getting the store ready for opening, drops out of university (where he was studying communications at UIC) to commit to American Apparel. He says he had an immediate connection with the store and has been very happy ever since.
"Dov is always calling, always asking what we need," he says. "He trusts a lot in Mexicans and he knows we're going to do a good job here. And Iris—she's a big head here in Mexico City. She's really amazing."
So the Mexico City American Apparel store opens in August 2005; (the only other AA location in the country is in Playa del Carmen near Cancun). Iris Alonzo, a beautiful and idea-filled twentysomething who's Charney's #1 assistant, falls head over heels in love with Mexico City—finding inspiration everywhere and collecting 1968 Olympics memorobilia, vintage porn, and creepy finds from markets all over the city.
Alonzo comes up with the idea to start a free monthly bilingual newspaper in the city. There's no alt-weeklies here, nothing really anything like it. They can produce it out of the Celeste offices and distribute it in every American Apparel store worldwide. Freelancers can write features on interesting markets where you can find crazy/funny items. Hipsters and urban dreamers will be attracted to the cool lifestyle features. Include a "Survival Guide for Güeritos" and a daily/nightly calendar of events so foreign visitors can use it as city guide. Renowned Mexico City porn-ish fashion photog Napoleón Habeica (Celeste, Black Book, i-D, Elle, Wallpaper, Nylon, etc.) can shoot the fashion spreads. And wham! Mexico City Monthly prints its first issue in January 2006 and Julio and Mariano not only contribute short features but happily agree to take charge of all deliveries within Mexico City.
They paper a truck with MCM issues and drop off stacks at universities, bars, restaurants, boutiques, galleries, indie videostores, sex shops, hostels, taquerías and lavanderías—about 200 locations citywide. They grab a dolly and walk through the zócalo distributing issues hand-to-hand. They've just acquired two mountain bikes to which they'll attach baskets so when the December issue rolls out they can begin door-to-door deliveries paper-boy-style.
And delivering newspapers all day isn't a downer?
"[MCM] is something we make and how better you can see the reaction of the people," says Pineda. "For me it's really gratifying because I can see what we are making they love."
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Made in Downtown LA—Vertically Integrated Manufacturing