And speaking of t-shirts

american apparel

H/T to Samhita at feministing...

Big news in the world of hipster clothing: American Apparel launches new "Afrika" collection!

(If you're unfamiliar with the shadiness that is American Apparel, go here, and here.  Or here, or here... I'm sure there are many, many more.) 


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9 comments have been made. Post a comment.


I cannot believe this! I'm very shocked that American Apparel's CEO is such a creep! Very informative article. I visited the links as well. As for the "sweatshop free" claim that AA makes... I wonder if there are even ANY legit companies out there where they don't make their merchandise at sweatshops.

Thanks for the info!

No Sweat

go check out No Sweat ( I've bought a couple nice sweat shirts from them and they have nice t-shirts too.

Looking at their site again and apparently they have sneakers, who knew? Anyway, definitely the best alternative to AA i've seen around.


I've given up on AA... Must admit I've owned some AA merchandise in the past, but since I came across some articles and reviews, I haven't set foot in there again!

Something fishy about that place... Seems like they make too many claims and then can't hold them. Just like their CEO can't hold it... ;o)

If I can justify (with a

If I can justify (with a tinge of guilt) shopping at H+M and Forever 21, I can't kick myself around too much for ocasionally shopping at American Apparel. Even Samhita at Feministing mentioned that AA could qualify as one of the non-feminist guilty pleasures that they sometimes write about on their excellent blog.
I own a few items from American Apparel--I just like how comfortable and simple their clothes are. And they last forever.
The "Afrika" campaign is an obvious jump onto the trend bandwagon. Many of the new "hip" bands that have found indie success recently have a tribal, Afrobeat feel to their music (Vampire Weekend, M.I.A. , and El Guincho to name a few). Skinny white hipsters go to their shows and buy their music. I suppose AA feels that the next logical step would be to appropriately clothe those hipster kids. It doesn't, however, strike me as particularly racist. Just really, really tacky. I don't think I'll be buying a zebra print bodysuit anytime soon.

MIA is Sri Lankan, iirc, so

MIA is Sri Lankan, iirc, so I think that might be part of the non-Western vibe to her music, because, well, she's not exactly Western. But Vampire Weekend are a bunch white Ivy League kids, who don't seem to be ripping off actual African music so much as Graceland.

But American Apparel? Even if they weren't so icky and unethical, their clothes are tacky and run small. (Lame was never a good idea, especially not for high-waist leggings.)

I wasn't blaming any of the

I wasn't blaming any of the people who make this music (and where they come from doesn't really matter to me--people are free to explore other cultures musically--even when it results in a bland mess, like Vampire Weekend) . I was merely stating that their audiences appear to be for the most part upper class white hipsters. Also, Paul Simon's Graceland had a profound Afropop influence, so if Vampire Weekend is ripping off Graceland, then it's safe to say that make music that is rooted in Africa. In fact, I have actually heard them played on African-centered radio shows.
I was simply pointing out that there is a certain "hip-ness" around African culture that makes its way through the white upper class every few years, and American Apparel's new clothing line is just one example of this trend.
And yes, some of their clothes are tacky, but others have really nice, simple lines. People have different tastes, I suppose.

Racism & AA

I don't think the argument is about whether or not zebra print in and of itself is racist. The print itself isn't racist. However, what is about this new line of clothing is that it's called Afrika--essentially distilling an entire continent made up of hundreds of different cultures into one homogeneous aesthetic. Some of the people on the feministing comments already made this point, but I think it bears repeating: you would never, ever see a clothing just called "Europe." You might see a clothing line inspired by Celtic designs or by Italian art, but you can pretty much guarantee that the line would narrow it down to those specific cultures.

name? racist? piss off...

The print itself isn't racist. However, what is about this new line of clothing is that it's called Afrika--essentially distilling an entire continent made up of hundreds of different cultures into one homogeneous aesthetic... would never, ever see a clothing just called "Europe."

No shit, sherlock.
First of all, the name of the clothing line is NOT racist, it's just a name. The designs are reminiscent of those found on the continent of Africa. It's like naming a kangaroo burger an "Aussie Burger". It just plain makes sense. Should they have instead called it "Stripey"?
And of course you wouldn't see a line of clothing called "Europe" for two reasons. First of all, no one in Europe wants to see Europe. They've SEEN Europe. They LIVE Europe. They want to see something new and exciting. like (wait for it) Africa.
Second of all, Europe is boring. No one ANYWHERE wants to see Europe.
People need to stop picking fights about racism where they're not warranted. If someone discriminates against someone else because of their race, go right ahead. I'm not pro-racism, i think its a load of crap. But Anti-racism only leads to reverse racism.
Go find something substantial to complain about.

I'm not condoning American

I'm not condoning American Apparels practices, nor am I defending its CEO, However, to critique AA for its "Africa" campaign it just silly nit-picking. AA's Africa campaign is a response to global fashion trends, which have been promoting ethnic prints for the past few seasons. Numerous retailers and media outlets have supported this trend; even Louis Vuitton has produced a "Kalahari" line. It's not as if this is an isolated instance of Fashion exploiting indigenous culture. Season after season fads are created to keep buyers consuming. These Trends are often inspired by global cultures and subcultures. My point it not to defend a company which I personally find demeaning and obnoxious, but point out that they are by far not the first, last or worst company in the retain market. The fashion industry itself is fueled solely by narcissism, elitism and greed.