While I've made my feelings about American Apparel clear in the past, they certainly are making themselves into a moving target. Picking up the slack left behind by Urban Outfitters, AA has introduced a Legalize Gay shirt to their stores (a riff off of their Legalize LA model). Does this have anything to do with their recent drama in San Francisco? And what do we think of the commercialization of activism?
For those of you who haven't heard, American Apparel just lost a major battle with local business owners and residents of San Francisco's Mission District. The San Francisco Planning Commission voted against granting the company the permit to retail space on Valencia Street, a move in line with many residents' desires to keep formula retail out of the neighborhood. While a Legalize Gay shirt is certainly timely for many major reasons beyond this fight in my hometown, it does seem like an olive branch of sorts when considering the city's obvious ties to the gay rights movement (and even further pop cultural relevance in the aftermath of Sean Penn's Oscar win for Milk).
But is this olive branch only a twisted up pair of $30 leggings in disguise? I'm personally suspicious of commercialism masked as activism, which is an already played out concept for AA. The idea that buying into capitalism (a system that feeds off of inequality) to fight inequality seems a little backwards. Additionally, "consumption activism" strikes me as just an easy way out. If I buy this sweatshop-free tee that is ALSO in support of same-sex marriage, I'm covering all my bases, right?
While I definitely love an equal rights for all message, it is a little hard to swallow when coming from an anti-union, pro-female humiliation and exploitation company such as AA. Maybe I'm a little overly cynical, but I have to imagine that this design is from a money making perspective primarily. While I do not doubt that many employees of the company are in support of repealing Prop 8, I can't believe that American Apparel would introduce any kind of clothing or accessory without the wondering "will this sell?"
What do you all think? Step in the right direction? Smart money-making move?