Thursday, March 22, 2007

Death By Dov Charney

I had a panic attack in the dressing room of American Apparel yesterday when I became convinced that I was going to be murdered.

Perhaps I need to explain.

I've been completely obsessed with t-shirt dresses ever since I was introduced to the idea (basically a long t-shirt that society accepts as a dress) in a fashion magazine awhile ago. It sounded like the epitome of comfort and casual cool. Ideally, such a garment would cost $10, max, but sadly my search had only turned up $200 versions as I got antsy to begin spring and summer and forsake my pants.

I had a hunch that American Apparel would have just what I was looking for, but I usually try to boycott companies with crappy advertising (You won't see me buying Dove "Women are beautiful just as they are! Now buy our cellulite cream to fix your disgusting thighs" soap, for example). American Apparel ads, as I discussed here, creep me the hell out, but they have cute things, damnit, and soon I found myself on their website, staring at a "tunique" that matched my specifications exactly.

Ultimately, the urge for a t-shirt dress, my generally weak will, and the glimpse of what seemed like a perfect one on the AA website drew me into their Portland store. I was greeted by an appropriately sulky, skinny, primary-colored young man who wasn't helpful at all. I asked him where to find this, the dress I'd ogled online the night before:

He said, "Ummm....over there?" and pointed to the huge women's section.

"Thanks."

I finally found it on the rack and picked out a navy blue one. The product was not living up to my high hopes--the material was really thin and a couple of the ones on the rack already looked old and beat up, the result of just being tried on a few times. Did I really want to spend $34 on a t-shirt dress that would last for probably two days until, oh, I don't know, an especially strong breeze blew the seams open or something? No, I didn't. But I'd come in this store, ignored my moral compass, and been treated like shit by an employee--I had to make it worth it. I marched into the dressing room to try it on.

The dressing rooms at American Apparel are like the dressing rooms at many hip places nowadays--dimly lit cement mini-dungeons (yes, as opposed to regular sized dungeons or the always preferable mega-dungeons) with only a thin, transparent curtain for privacy. I put the dress on, which was both extremely unflattering and, despite its "dress" status, failed to cover my chocha. I threw it on the floor in rage (I'm always a bit dramatic in dressing rooms), started to put my clothes back on, and that's when I noticed the pictures on the walls.

There were four or five black and white polaroid-style photos of young women in trademark AA borderline-porno poses. They were all wearing next to nothing and looked like they were suffering. Suddenly I felt like I'd stumbled into the den of a twisted serial killer with a penchant for twenty-something hipsters, and I had to escape immediately. The only thing stopping me from running screaming out of the store was the fact that I was basically naked and surrounded by equally naked women with flatter stomachs than mine. An intense battle ensued between my survival instincts and my need to avoid junior high locker room flashbacks at all costs. In the end, junior high avoidance won out, and I ended up sitting in the dressing room hyperventilating and staring at the picture of American Apparel's (or Dov Charney's?) previous victims, preparing for my inevitable bloody end.

So maybe I'm more than a "bit dramatic" in dressing rooms. But don't tell me you've never done the same thing. Right?

And my search for a t-shirt dress continues...

10 comments:

kris said...

lol

QM said...

I only recently started using the AA site (we don't have a store so are spared the dungeon horror) and I ordered a sheer white vest and when it came it came with a catalogue - and I remember your post about the horrid semi-porn poses but didn't actually visit site for fear of being put off - and when I saw a catalogue filled with these pornified hipsters it really did put me off! Especially as one, who was 'modelling' underwear, had visible bikini line stubble!!!!! Now that's just plain wrong. Lady Shave my dear, Lady Shave!

Alex Richards said...

Your post is frigging hilarious.
AA has the most effed up ad campaigns ever. I have a friend who used to work there and she was telling me about some ad with a girl giving a naked guy a blow job? uh... what am I supposed to get from that "Wow, that guy has a big dick, I think I'll go buy a T-shirt."
There's an AA 2 blocks from my apt, and I ALWAYS want to go in, but I try to stop myself, because it's never as flattering as I think it's going to be, and yes, the seams could rip if I breathe wrong.
Ugh.
Great blog. ;)

eye4style said...

I am beyond turned off by AA these days (and I am SO far from a prude, I might add). I just find the company exploitive and in poor taste!

Not to mention,their cottons aren't even that fabulous. I much prefer LA Made or Splendid tees:)

Lola is Beauty said...

ick. malnourished hipsters in dirty y fronts are just the thing to make me yearn for a new t shirt. ps: the AA staff in London were so dismissively rude I've never been back in their evil den of jersey.

Becky said...

I know they're not fashionable, but if all you want it a basic tshirt dress, you could do a lot worse than Land's End http://tinyurl.com/3228ky It's only $30 and their stuff lasts for forever.

Pauline Joy said...

I read the Dov Charney article..
"Charney: You know, there are some of us that love sluts. You know, it’s not necessarily—it could be also be an endearing term.

Fink: An endearing term. Is that something you call your mother?"

Anyway, I love how you integrated both news and fun nonfiction. I really don't like going to AA in general, because I just feel like such a sleeze walking out of the store. The one on Haight St (SF) has the pictures everywhere and beyond. I prefer shopping online and returning what I don't like. It works out for the gas in the end, anyway.

ambika said...

I first encountered American Apparel back in 2000 in S.F. before they had chains everywhere. I didn't see what the big deal was then, and can't stand them now. I'm not anti-porn, but when you use a questionable means to sell clothes whose only bonus (to me) is that they're sweatshop free, it kinda defeats the purpose--is sexually exploiting Hipster Cliche Girl any better than financially exploiting some person in China? Besides which, the quality is no better than Old Navy.

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Madeleine said...

Honestly I have no issue with american apparel. Granted, they do utilize fairly suggestive advertisements - but they do what they're intended to by showing off the product and unfortunately they cannot always appeal to each and every person out there. Admittedly at times I do enjoy the ads. They're sexy and fun and remind you that you don't need to overstyle yourself to look beautiful - reminding us that even a t-shirt can look sexy. If you can see past the sleaziness and trensters you will find high quality garments and great basics that will last for years.

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