American Apparel is the clothing company of choice for many progressives out there, due to it’s non-sweatshop conditions. Many orgs out there try to do the right thing, buy sweatshop-free blank shirts to paste their logos on and sell, and AA’s prices are pretty reasonable.
However, the company is anti-union, its owner has numerous sexual harassment allegations and lawsuits pending against him, and the company’s advertising is often exploitative of women (in a quasi-porn kinda way). From formal and informal sources, it seems like owner Dov Charney is a sleazy motherfucker, who feels that his “paternal benevolence” averts the need for his employees to unionize, and that he is really a wannabe porn magnate who happens to be in the clothing business.
Clamor Magazine decided to take the company on, and published a very nice exposé of the company. And it should come as no surprise that they have received a threatening legal letter from American Apparel, demanding a retraction and public apology. I’m not a lawyer, but I’m pretty sure that AA have no case unless they can prove that Clamor wrote things that they knew to be untrue with the intent of hurting the company.
Amusingly, Clamor did print one correction to their AA coverage:
In this Fall 2006 issue, we incorrectly reported that Mary Nelson, a store manager at American Apparel, had withdrawn her sexual harassment suit against CEO Dov Charney. It has come to our attention that the suit by Mary Nelson, a sales manager, is still pending, and that an unnamed store manager withdrew her suit against the company.
Sometimes, the truth hurts.
Clamor has announced that they are standing by their story, and point out that a company which pulls in a yearly $250 million in profits threatening to sue a small social justice magazine kinda runs counter to progressive values.
Of course, the proper course of action to me seems to be to publicize Clamor’s AA articles, as well as AA’s strongarm tactics. Read the article. Tell your friends. Maybe send a link to your local newspaper and TV station.
I should also mention that the Clamor piece recommends several non-sweatshop alternatives that (to my knowledge) don’t try to force their employees to have sex with the boss:
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