American Apparel Juggernaut Headed for Westwood

The next taker in Westwood’s hot retail scene is L.A.’s own American Apparel. AA has nabbed a long-vacant Village storefront for its next bricks and mortar. (Two doors down from Victoria’s Secret.)

The rapidly-metastasizing hipster anti-brand brand that built a reputation on a self-described “sweatshop-free” ethos, brings with it a bit of baggage, none of which the average UCLA sophomore with step-mommy’s AmEx will give a squirrel’s ass about. Despite higher-than-average wages, their workers have been kept from unionizing. Some might be disinclined to channel funds to a company whose founder has been known to whip it (yes, IT) out during interviews. Then there’s the whole matter of the ads, those ubiquitous ads, which all gender/political/sexual issues aside, are just as flat-out tired as those iPod spots.

There was an eloquent piece in the NYT a few days ago wherein a reporter attempts (unsuccessfully) to reconcile the progressive appeal of American Apparel with it’s regressive image campaign. (It’s also copied here, in case the article is locked in the paid archives already.)

If nothing else, AA’s expansion (locations forthcoming on Melrose and on Main St. in Santa Monica) will be a case study in how a once-hip brand bloats and dilutes its cutting-edge appeal in trade for a wider piece of the market.