American Apparel T-shirt controversy gets retailer in hot water again
In news that should come as no surprise to those familiar with iconic hipster-slash-business mogul (slash-frequent lawsuit target) Dov Charney, American Apparel has released a T-shirt that states “Teenagers Do It Better.”
That’s not one of Charney’s official personal mottos (though, unofficially, who knows?), it’s a tagline for gay teen zine Electric Youth, a publication that most AA stores carry. Regardless, the questionable line is eliciting a knee-jerk reaction from commenters across the Internet.
Selling a shirt that promotes underage sex isn’t a smart move when you’re facing a plethora of very public lawsuits over allegations that you, well, promote underage sex. But for a company that spends millions on near-pornographic billboards, it could be argued that printing a magazine’s tagline on a crewneck tee is tame by comparison.
"I actually like the company in a lot of ways," says a former AA employee (who prefers not to give their name). "This in particular isn't a big deal to me—there are far worse things to be offended by. And honestly, nobody should expect any less from them."
The things that always made me cringe were the explicitly sexual ads with employees. That is where it gets weird, the power thing.
It's true that American Apparel has built a brand around controversy and sexual exploitation. So much that it overshadows their once primary claim to fame, their fair labor standards and LA-based manufacturing operations.
"The things that always made me cringe were the explicitly sexual ads with employees,” our contact continues. “That is where it gets weird, the power thing. So I highly doubt Charney didn't know about it, like he's claiming. He is so active within the company, especially about what goes on shelves."
Maybe AA's legal team has advised the formerly outspoken CEO to keep quiet? Or maybe the uncharacteristic silence is a sign that rumors of the company's closure might not be all speculation?
“Ultimately, I think it will be sad to watch that company go away,” says our source. “They kept things interesting, but more importantly, they had a business model that was cool and should have worked, if there wasn't so much ego involved. The only clothing manufacturer of its size to be 100% American? That's a big deal.”