American Apparel’s Downfall: A Tale in 10 Ads


Things are not looking good for American Apparel. Besides the fact that Gawker has launched an illuminating (and very entertaining) investigation into its shady hiring practices and employee dress code, Dov Charney’s company also seems on the brink of total financial apocalypse. And now, the Wall Street Journal reports that American Apparel is so behind on its quarterly paperwork that it might get delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

We imagine there will be much speculation in the coming weeks about American Apparel has fallen so far, so fast. Us? We’re pretty sure that the signs of impending doom can be tracked directly via the company’s notorious ads. After the jump, we examine the evolution of this year’s marketing campaign to find a brand that is, by all appearances, grasping at straws.

1. February 2010 American Apparel: The same clothes your parents buy at Eddie Bauer, only tighter.

2. March 2010 Is it a shirt or is it a dress? Or is it that useless, shapeless garment that somehow falls into neither category and flatters no one?

3. April 2010 Summer’s coming, but don’t worry — we’re not going to try and sell you any clothes. A tip from American Apparel: Save you cash, go naked. We’ll survive. Really.

4. May 2010 Ah, yes. Ass-less tights. Somehow, we feel like the group that appreciates this ad doesn’t overlap much with the group that is actually in the market for a pair of nylons.

5. June 2010 So, how’s that so-cool-we-don’t-even-need-to-advertise-the-product strategy working out for you?

6. June 2010 When your clothes are so weird and impractical you have to resort to grainy, ’70s-porn photography… Internet, we’re leaving the “Centipede Humaine” parody of this ad up to you.

7. June 2010 You’d think a company in dire trouble would want to feature at least one of its products per ad…

8. July 2010 At this point, we imagine American Apparel had cut enough of their designers that they no longer had the resources to create separate styles for men and women. Except for the underwear. Don’t worry — you’d have to pry the lacy panties from Dov’s cold, dead hand.

9. July 2010 Granny panties! It is not easy to make the girl in this ad look frumpy, and yet American Apparel’s eagle-eyed photographer has almost managed to do it.

10. August 2010 We’ll consider this apparently unironic appreciation of unflattering pants an unconditional surrender.