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CULTURE: The reign of American Apparel
Olivia Kupfer
November 10, 2008

You must have lived under a rock for the past five years if you haven't yet heard of American Apparel. I'd argue that on a typical Friday night at Vandy's campus, a majority of co-eds would be sporting at least one item from this popular clothier.

In fact, American Apparel has become the new uniform for today's adolescent, hipster set. Whether it's the clothing's competitive pricing or the company's provocative advertising campaigns, all of which feature attractive young women in questionable poses, American Apparel's recipe has proven to be both highly successful and profitable.

This sweatshop-free clothing manufacturer began as a small-scale wholesaler of t-shirts and leggings in the late '90s and expanded into the retail market in 2000. American Apparel operates its own manufacturing facility in downtown Los Angeles, deciding against cutting costs by outsourcing its labor.

Although the company has taken an alternative route in the fashion world, American Apparel is highly profitable and has experienced one of rapidest retail store expansions in American history. The brand's success and business model, a combination of social advocacy (i.e. the company's recent "legalize L.A." campaign to support U.S. immigration rights) and a no-nonsense product (contemporary basics at reasonable prices that are both fashionable and comfortable) is a pioneer in the fashion world. Furthermore, the company manages to combine style, social consciousness and retro appeal in all of its garments.

So what to expect with your American Apparel experience? Well, if you need to find appropriate clothing for an '80s aerobic class, or maybe an '80s-themed frat party, look no further. Yes, there are more toned-down options, like the black, high waist micro-fiber skirt, which has been very popular this season. Another option is American Apparel's iridescent silver leggings, which make such a bold statement that they may be a little too loud for class.

The company has expanded its product line for both men and women so that while the company continues to sell to wholesalers (i.e. they make great fraternity/sorority t-shirts), they also offer kids' clothing, retro sunglasses and chain-link jewelry.

The products may prove to not have staying power in the future (hey, leggings have to go out of style some day), but for the time being, American Apparel is the brand of the moment. And although you may question why your shiny leggings have a $45 price tag (which to seems a little pricey for polyester) remember they really do wonders for your backside.
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