100% American…Apparel

August 13, 2009

picture-18So I walked by my local American Apparel (AA) today on the way to work, and noticed a sign outside saying “Made in the USA.” I think it’s been there for awhile, but today was the first day I noticed. At first I cringed, then chuckled, and finally walked away shaking my head. To me, that sign together with American Apparel epitomes the current set of American values.

Cut corners to make $: American Apparel mass produces low quality clothing for pennies, but in neon colors and see-thru thin fabric, and label and sell them as fashionable and overpriced. I own one white shirt that looked and fit fine before I washed it. Now it looks and feels like a baby’s cloth diaper. If you gave a homeless person American Apparel to stay warm, he/she should probably spit in your face. The thing is, I can’t be the only who realizes this, but people still wait outside the door for these stores to open.

SEX SEX SEX, got your attention now: American Apparel either has the most brilliant marketing strategists or the laziest. All their advertisements consists of young, innocent looking girls barely wearing their wispy clothing posing provocatively. It’s genius. And these girls aren’t your Penthouse, Hustler looking pornstars, but the brown-eyed cute girls living next door who are secretly wearing see-thru bra and panties. Then American Apparel provides an easy way for girls, and guys, to look and feel sexy like their ads. Brilliant or lazy?

Tell me how to dress, how to think: Every few weeks American Apparel updates their window front with new combinations of clothing based on the latest fashion trends. And walking down the street in NYC is basically an imitation of last week’s mannequins. Why put thought into what you’re wearing when they do it completely for you. At AA, you can buy the latest fashionable jeans, jackets, shirts, pants, skirts, socks, shoes, belts, hats, panties, bras, shorts, accessories…I can go on. You can even buy baby clothing. How lazy does a parent have to be to buy baby clothes at AA? This behavior parallel’s the average American’s desire to be spoon-fed everything. Why think about what to wear when someone will do it for you? Why read books when people rehash the facts for you? Why do research on important discussion topics, such as global warming, foreign affairs, economics, health care, when the internet, TV, and newspapers will do it for you?

Anyways, I’m exhausted. This post might be my longest yet. Don’t worry, we’ll hit back with some more of the usual music, art, and culture posts in the future.

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Found this cool vid this morning detailing some milestones in sneaker culture. Very well done…

Sometimes first impressions are wrong; take for example, the Nike Air Footscape. First released in 1995, the Footscape was designed to be Nike’s premier ergonomic running shoe. It boasted light-weight, breathable materials, a foot-forming  sole, and the indistinguishable side lacing. The Footscape captured the best of Nike innovation and their ability to recognize what’s best for athletes. Since being released, the Footscape has been welcomed with lukewarm interest in the States, with most appeal coming from diehard sneakerheads. However, the Footscape is widely popular in Asia (i.e Japan) especially the woven design shown below. And we all know, when it comes to gear the Japanese know what’s fresh.

So why do I like these? Because they’re just different. The materials, shape, and lines of the sneaker are unique and silhouette the natural shape of the human foot.  Most first impressions start and end at “ugly,” but there’s so much more to the sneaker. The story of it alone is worth a second look

The pics below are of the recently released Nike Air Footscape Woven TZ “Striped,” but I doubt this colorway and style will hit the shelves in the States. Don’t worry though, the Footscape is making a comeback this season so watch out for other releases…and while you wait here’s all you could ever want to know about them here.

nike-air-footscape-woven-tz-striped-1nike-air-footscape-woven-tz-striped-3

Keep Company

October 2, 2008

I recently stumbled on Keep in the latest issue of Nylon. A clothing, shoe and apparel company, Keep was originally started with women in mind and continues to tailor most of its products towards women. Interestingly though, Keep recently became inundated with requests from men to begin carrying their footwear in men’s sizes. Intrigued, I decided to see what all the fuss was about.

Keep’s footwear incorporates mostly classic styles and patterns, often reminiscent of the timeless designs of Clarks and the Converse All-Star hi. Yet two designs really caught my eye. First, the Nuss—pictured above—stood out for combining a solid color midsole with the patterned fold-over. It reminded me a bit of Visvims, a brand highly touted by my pal Soybomb. I really like the use of traditional plaid, argyle and southwestern patterns on this particular shoe.

I was also a fan of the Benton—pictured left—which looks like a moccasin/dock sider hybrid. Not sure if I’d ever actually wear this style, but I really like the concept. To be honest, I’ve never really noticed Keep shoes in stores, but according to the website, you can find them at shops like Reed Space, Atrium and even WeSC. Who knew. To peep the rest of their collection, check out http://www.keepcompany.com/

American Apparel

September 3, 2008

By now it’s no secret: American Apparel sells hip, comfortable clothes, but uses very suggestive images of women in their ads to do so, a practice that seems contrary to the company’s claims of being a socially responsible brand. I stumbled upon a Newsweek piece from a while back that discusses this very issue. It even mentions a particularly provocative billboard that used to be at the corner of Houston and Allen and one that we would always comment on walking past. Turns out the reason it came down was because someone had tagged the phrase “Gee, I wonder why women get raped” across the top of it. Jeesh. That’s one way to make a point. Take a look at the Newsweek article HERE, it’s pretty interesting.

Supreme x Tera Patrick

August 13, 2008

Occasionally my roommates and I will cut out clippings from newspapers and magazines that we find interesting or provocative and post them on the fridge and kitchen wall (ok fine, I’m pretty much the only one that does this, but still). One such clipping that’s been on display for several months now is a striking Supreme ad that I tore out of Vice. It features a busty brunette woman scantily clad in a bikini hugging a skate deck. Her expression is…suggestive. I cut it out simply because I thought it was fucking awesome. What’s not hot about a sexy woman posing with a skate deck?

The ad has become somewhat of a fixture of our decor, and to be honest I hadn’t really thought about it in a while until today. That is until I read in the latest issue of Complex that the woman is in fact pornstar Tera Patrick. I must admit that I was taken aback by this discovery, not so much that Supreme would use her in one of their ads (their mantra as a brand seems to be “If you don’t like it, step off”) but that a pornstar would be in an apparel ad to begin with. Supreme is a brand that prides itself on existing on the fringes and I’m wondering if we’ll begin to see a similar trend with other such “cooler than thou” brands. Are pornstars and other societal outliers the next way to earn street cred for your brand? It’s funny to think about, but in this day and age, where every brand is looking for a way to make a name and turn heads, it might not be that far from reality.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but one thing that bothers me to no end is when people wear black dress shoes with jeans. Somewhere along the way, a rule was formulated in my mind where guys should only wear sneakers or brown shoes with jeans (i.e. Clarks Originals or something similar). Being in NYC, I see an abundance of people walking around, especially at night, in such self-described fashion faux pas. I think those types of people also weigh heavily on my prejudice, people who just reek of a trying-too-hard and over-the-top air.

For those unconvinced, please see the displayed example to my left. I can live with the tighter cut of jeans and the crumpled indie-rock look, but the addition of the black dress shoes makes me cringe. I don’t even need to see the rest of the picture to know this guy is probably a douche. A pair of sneakers or canvas shoes would fit these jeans significantly better.

For me, nothing beats a pair of sneakers (probably Nikes) with jeans. Not even NYC will sway my view.