The upscale laid back fashion empire ‘American Apparel’, faced their fate in 2107 when they declared bankruptcy in Canada. This came at a shock to almost all as AA was viewed as in style and trendy. Now we are a society of self indulged narcissists but we are not uncultured. Especially by living in Toronto, we are exposed to a variety of fashion from high levelled to affordable casual. American Apparel was never a brand that was viewed as faulty in the aspect of fashion quality or content, but when analyzing the brand in a more microscopic view we can see that the company was lacking in areas of advertising, marketing, image, and social media.

Americal Apparel started out strong with some good intentions in mind. Their number one selling feature and brand identity was that they were known as 100% made in America. This made them renowned as sweatshop free.

The pictures above were the social media posts they would make to inform their audience that they were selling products made 100% in the USA. In a time and age where sweat shops were on the rise for being outed- such as the GAP case, American Apparel was very smart in their choice to make this one of their biggest characteristics. What is something you notice about the photos above? Let’s talk about targeted audiences. Imagine you are a Canadian like myself and are seeing young tiny girls repping the United States it is most likely going to make you feel like an outsider to the brand. American Apparel was trying to show their goals and brand but I feel like it came off rather cliquy when they could have gone about it in a more inclusive way. In my opinion, I think thus started their downfall in branding content. If they are going to pop up shop in some of the most high traffic areas in Canada such as Yonge and Dundas, then they should be able to be selling inclusive content and be aware that there will be some political and financial back lash at some point. I think where American Apparel started to enter the danger zone in terms of their social media branded content, was when the conversation of body image started. In 2014 there started to be talk about how the brand overly sexualizes their ads and mannequins. The models they chose tended to be on the younger side and exemplifying majorly sexual positions in minimal clothing. This caused a internal fight within the brand because they had previously been known for doing something culturally aware (sweat shop free) but then also failed to create an approachable image for audiences. Below are some of the ads that caused a commotion on social media that are pulled both from their website and online photo blog such as instagram.

As seen above, these ads do not exactly scream family friendly. Not even that, but they repeatedly use the sexualization of the female body as the main selling feature. The sexualized content that is in these photos

suggests that there is a secondary source in the photo that is either a part of the scene or influencing it. This removes any empowering content that could have been interpreted by females owning sexuality. It much rather comes across in a message of exploitation and hierarchal personas. We have the female straddling the male who has a tiny figure and both characters are very white. Next we have a woman pleasing a man. We only see her face and it implies that she is the one doing the pleasing, not the other way around. The emphasis is only on her body and the eye contact we receive is from a very sexual angle. Nothing about the ad represents the clothing brand which is a media based mistake. If your branded content does not inform the audience about the brand and instead suggests a secondary meaning, then your brand will start to gain the reputation you are showing. The last two photos are equally as male dominated. The main attraction of the photo is based around the body and the situation rather than the clothing. The personality of the company quickly changed from a sleek and trendy fashion brand to a controversial and divided brand. In my opinion, it is not a smart move to throw up posters with these contents in them and have them viewed in a high traffic area. As a company, you cannot assume that everyone knows your content and brand and they use your social media/advertising to fill in the questions for them. If someone knew nothing of American Apparel’s clothing, by seeing just these ads I am sure they would have a predetermined opinion of what they are selling. It all depends on who you are trying to apply your product to and being culturally aware of what is going on in the society you are selling in. I think American Apparel’s social media brand started the dissemination of value in the company. It is very controversial of how females are being viewed and sexualized. In a time and age where feminism is a growing strength in our society it would be smart to be sensitive to it. Their social media seems to portray the content in a negative light and has received lots of negative backlash which then reflects in to the company.

Another thing that their social media started to do and they received negative backlash from was their age and body size of models. In 2017 at the American Apparel in Texas, there was a mannequin that started an uprise of a conversation of the body image they were representing. The mannequins used in the dis play windows are all double zero body types and display the same sexualized imagery. It was brought to societies attention that Dov Charney the founder, was using and taking unsolicited photos of girls as young as 17 and has been accused of sexual harassment no less than 6 times. All of this information is important to reduce and shine a light away from in social media. With all this evident negative back lash from the brand and their take on social media content, they should have altered their online personality to shift away from the lone male gaze and turned into something more accepted and inclusive. I strongly believe that their misuse of social media led to their slow yet sturdy dissemination of the value of their company and resulted in their bankruptcy.

They are only now starting to come back with their online brand and the content is very different from what we have seen before. There is still a certain sexual element to the photos but they are seen from not only the male gaze and more of an inclusive view. This is a classic case of how social media can negatively effect ones brand and how the audience that views has an impact on the sustainability and success of ones image. They completely rebranded their name and is making a slow comeback for themselves. Below are a few of the pictures taken from their current instagram page.