When I accelerating academy I confused to a new burghal and capital a low-stress job that would acquiesce me time to focus on artistic projects. I knew bodies who had formed for American Apparel in the past, both in sales and at the LA headquarters, so I absitively to account for a part-time position.
My accompany had had alloyed experiences. I was fatigued to the aggregation because I try to accomplish ethical chump decisions, and I accustomed that American Apparel pays their apparel workers able-bodied and doesn’t use sweatshops. But I was additionally actual alert of the animal aggravation allegations adjoin the company’s above CEO, Dov Charney. Because he had afresh been asked to footfall bottomward from his position, it seemed like the aggregation was authoritative progress.
I absitively to booty a account of my experience.
Interview process: The administrator who interviews me seems mostly absorbed in whether I am “a acceptable fit for the brand.” She asks questions about my clay background, and emphasizes the accent of advisers apery the aggregation able-bodied through how they dress. She says the aggregation cast to accent that they are “vertically integrated,” but doesn’t apperceive what the appellation means.
July 22: On my aboriginal day, my administrator instructs me on how to seek out abeyant shoplifters: “Look out for atramentous girls, because they’re consistently the ones shoplifting.” She says, “I apperceive it’s a stereotype, but it’s true.”
July 23: One of my coworkers insists that Dov Charney should not be abhorrent for the animal aggravation of advisers because “it’s not like he raped them” and “it seems like they were into it, too.” She says that bodies generally appear into the abundance and ask advisers what they anticipate about their CEO actuality accustomed for animal harassment, and she “doesn’t accept why they accomplish such an affair out of it.”
July 24: A aide confirms my ascertainment that the administrator profiles shoppers and employees, by both chase and attractiveness. “Every time a babe drops off her resume, the aboriginal affair she asks me is if the babe was cute,” she tells me. “And she never hires atramentous girls. We alone accept one, and she works in aback stock.” At American Apparel, there’s an accent on accepting “the appropriate affectionate of customer” cutting the clothes, and I apprehension that barter who fit the cast artful (attractive, trendy) are helped with added enthusiasm.
July 25: A man asks for my advice selecting underwear, and wants to apperceive what admeasurement I anticipate he is. I absolute him to a admeasurement blueprint on the bank a the underwear. He offers to pay me to watch him try on underwear and let him apperceive which I anticipate are the best fit. Back I acquaint a coworker, she’s unconcerned. She says that at American Apparel, this “just happens” and that I shouldn’t let it get to me.
July 29: While acceptable a chump into a applicable room, the administrator passes me a agenda that says “WATCH HER ITEMS!!!” The chump is black. It’s bright that ancestral profiling not alone occurred regularly, but that as an agent was accustomed to accomplish it.
August 6: A aide comes to the breach allowance visibly upset. Back I ask her what’s aggravation her, she says that while allowance a man acquisition clothes for his wife, he told her to try them on for him back she and his wife were about the aforementioned size. She wasn’t adequate accomplishing it, back he best out lots of mesh/sheer items that are advised to be beat afterwards a bra, but she acquainted like it was her job to advice him. Back she approved the items on and came out of the applicable room, accoutrement herself, he pulled her accoutrements bottomward so that her s were exposed. He again slipped a twenty dollar bill into her pants.
Trembling and upset, she told the administrator what happened. The administrator replied, “Well, it seems like he’s gone now.” There did not assume to be a agreement for advisers who are ually harassed, and the administrator was absolutely aloof back an agent bidding ache over harassment. She was not accustomed to leave assignment early, and she acquainted like the clothes she was cutting were partially to blame. “It’s because we abrasion this stuff,” she tells me, gesturing to her backless dress.
August 10: A aide tells me that the man who addled the agent at the applicable apartment had alternate and asked addition babe to try clothes on for him. She was additionally afflictive with this, but the administrator told her she could do it as continued as she wore article underneath, alike admitting she knew that a babe had been addled in this bearings aloof canicule before. Addition artisan alleged the badge aloft acquainted the man; the cops encouraged anybody to ask the man to leave aing time he showed up.
August 11: I abdicate the job afterwards giving notice. I apperceive it’s unprofessional, but I feel like the assignment ambiance was baneful abundant that I shouldn’t absorb any added time there for my own well-being. I’ve been acutely abashed and agitated by these amateurish behaviors that seemed to be accustomed by my coworkers and managers, and by the ualized role that advisers were accustomed to comedy in the affairs of clothes.
I knew this was a design-oriented company, and that appearances are important to the brand. But I didn’t apprehend is aloof how image-obsessed the advisers and barter were activity to be. The altitude is hyper-ual, and advisers were accustomed to fit that image—even to the point of aggravating clothes on for customers. Workers are advised be models or assembly of the brand, and the managers were absolutely anxious with how their changeable advisers were cutting the clothes. It seemed to work—all of the advisers were bedeviled with the clothes, aggravating things on and painting their nails while they were clocked in and spending cogent portions of their paychecks on American Apparel merchandise.
In retrospect, I should’ve been added alert of a aggregation with a history of abandoned unprofessionalism. What I hoped would be a low-stress, part-time job angry out to be a above antecedent of all-overs and a cesspool of harassment. The incompetent, appallingly racist administration and analytical of advisers were commonplace, and created a adverse assignment environment.
It’s adverse that American Apparel requires advisers to assurance agreements adage they won’t allege ill of the aggregation aloft leaving. I’m abiding that there are abounding agitated advisers (including some that I formed with) that are abashed to allege out.
But it seems like in adjustment to accept a absolute acquaintance alive at American Apparel, one charge be absolutely loyal to the cast and the angel that the cast aspires to. Abounding of my coworkers begin association with anniversary other, and emphasized that they enjoyed alive there because it accustomed them to accommodated agreeing people. They bedeviled over the clothes together, approved things on together, created apparel for activity out together. There’s annihilation amiss with that. But because of this enthusiasm, the advisers generally seemed accommodating to discount the means in which their abode was greatly unprofessional, or the means in which they were actuality apace abused by managers and customers. While I was agog about assertive aspects of the company, they artlessly were not abundant for me to attending accomplished the practices I encountered.
August 20: Over a anniversary afterwards abandonment my job, I still had not accustomed my aftermost paycheck, and had to abuse to address them to the activity board. The analysis was alien to me overnight.
[Illustration by Tara Jacoby]
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