Made in Downtown LAVertically Integrated Manufacturing
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Living Liberalism
USA for Austria. The cult eco-lifestyle label "American Apparel" opens a store in Vienna with success guaranteed.
Nicole Adler
August 22, 2008

The shop assistants are young, sexy and cool. And of course they wear only well-styled American Apparel outfits. The American label, with its wide selection of colourful cotton basics, has a very clever formula for success- pesticide-free cotton, dyed and finished in the manufacturing plant. Simple garments are cut from this nice cotton material, t-shirts, hoodies, leggings, underwear, dresses, windbreakers and scarves and sold over the counter at extremely moderate prices. The brands cuts, styles and colours are all adventurous. A smart mix of eco, ethics, sex appeal and coolness. The "best of sexy eco-basics" label formula for success would appear to be tailor-made for the young, anti-globalisation generation of today.

Maverick Thinker
Founder, Dov Charney, has enjoyed an almost unprecedented success story. With his expanding company the unconventional entrepreneur from Canada has lived the American dream in the fast lane. Charney was one of the first to realise that the fashion industry like none other had fallen into disrepute amongst consumers for producing in cheap labour countries. And so it came to pass that Charney not only set-up company headquarters in Downtown L.A. but also a manufacturing plant.

"Guaranteed sweatshop free", the "made in Downtown L.A. label" instead of "made in China" fast became the trademark of the American fashion corporation, which has been on a much-noticed roll in recent years. Employees in the manufacturing plant, most of which are immigrants from Latin America, earn more than double the American minimum wage. Charney also pays their health insurance and staff can avail of English classes, Yoga and massage free of charge. No wonder the eccentric maverick that looks like something out of a 70s episode of "Starsky & Hutch" soon had the economic world at his feet welcoming him as the new Messiah. In recent years America's most successful brand has quadrupled sales and now has 180 shops in 13 countries. Meanwhile the company ranks amongst the largest textile chains in the US earning 300 million US dollars per annum.

Sex sells
Without doubt the provocative porno chic subjects of the poster campaigns have played a considerable role in the success and are the cornerstones of the fashion chain. They regularly create a stir and media whirl. In 2006, the porno producer Lauren Phoenix was recruited as a stocking model for one advert. Generally though it is the young, pretty employees that pose provocatively for each advertising theme. That saves money and seems to be fun for those taking part.

His living liberalism has earned the boss- who likes to talk of free love- some image problems and criticism from the feminist front.

The label has a good chance of success in the Austrian market too. The recently opened shop on Mariahilfer Street 22-24 was eagerly awaited by the young hipsters and AA fans, up until now one could only get the coveted goods over the internet.

Things may be difficult though for the larger among us. Large is just big enough to pass as a 38. What's a real pity though is that not only thin women would look really good in AA.

Read the German Version
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