American Appalling

“Her hair is bad, and I think that I can see a nose piercing. Also, she’s not wearing our best styles. She will not be considered.”

Early in the new millennium, I was working in a little vintage shop in Toronto’s Kensington Market. Along with second-hand fare, we were one of the first stores in the area to offer custom tee-printing right on the cusp of that particular retro trend. When we discovered American Apparel, we were thrilled. While other tee suppliers offered only standard-fit, coarse, blocky oversized tees, AA came out of nowhere, producing affordable “blanks” with a stylish fit and feel – and they were sweatshop free! Along with stock for the shop, I regularly ordered things just for myself (including two dozen pair of their incomparable “bum bottom” panties which, sadly, have been discontinued). I was totally impressed and sure that AA would soon be a household name.

And I was absolutely right. From their unfriendly business practices (AA refused wholesale to a friend because he wouldn’t match their “suggested” retail markup in his tiny, independent shop), their controversial – and yet still somehow deadly dull – ad campaigns (and let’s not forget founder and current CEO Dov Charney’s well-publicized and rather unsavoury sexual tics), the company has sparked much debate.

So I can’t say I was terribly surprised when I found these screen shots from the company’s intranet posted at Gawker (via Born in Flames). And I can’t say I’m terribly worked up about it – since it’s not something most of us didn’t at least suspect was going on anyway. I mean, what kind of job requires you submit a full-body photo with your resume? (Don’t answer that.)

It is amusing, though. Makes me wonder if some of these people weren’t once part of a sorority sisterhood
american apparel dress code
American Apparel extensive dress code (part 2)

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Top image from German Historical Museum.

Postal Fashion

There is a real dearth of good mail in this world. And I suppose I’m as much to blame for that as anyone. I used to send letters – long, handwritten missives to my mom and long-distance friends. I still have a stack of love letters from a diligently romantic university boyfriend. Picking up the mail was sort of exciting, the potential of finding a fat little envelope filled with scribbles and pictures. Mostly it was because it meant someone was thinking of me – you know, for longer than it took to hit “send.”

These days, mailboxes are sad receptacles reserved for bills and flyers – the only postal cockroaches to survive the e-pocalypse. So imagine my delight when, on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon, I found an honest-to-god parcel on my porch.

Behold – WORN contributor and generally remarkable human, Hailey Siracky, sent me my very own pair of second-hand Ukrainian dancing boots!

After I stopped jumping around like a maniac, I had this Great Big Idea. I’m calling it Postal Fashion. Somewhere in everyone’s closet there is a tee-shirt that never fit quite right or a pair of earrings that are too pretty to get rid of but don’t go with anything. Just stick them in an envelope and send them to someone you like.

Because mail should be this awesome.

- g.

Oops, They Did it Again

It’s been quite a year for airbrush backlash. Just last February, raw photos of Madonna were “leaked” (I parenthesize because I can’t believe Madonna had nothing to do with their surfacing) and Monica Belucci appeared sans fards on the cover of French Elle. Then Talk left Claudia Schiffer untouched and, just this month, Marie Claire let Jessica Simpson go bare-faced (I have to admit she looks smashing). And then there was Kim “Not a Celebrity” Kardashian and Sarah “Look, There’s Russia” Palin, and so on and so on.

Now, Britney Spears has given her blessing for pre-shop photos from her new Candies campaign to appear next to their post-production counterparts, ostensibly to expose the illusion of modern image enhancement.

While, in theory, I applaud the idea of wanting to show some semblance of reality, people also need to realize these women are hardly common specimens. Seeing Monica Bellucci without foundation is hardly like looking in a mirror (for me, at least), and I’d venture to say Madonna is not representative of most 50 year old women. These women are blessed with great genes and an army of trainers and aestheticians. I should hope they look nice without makeup.

But even more importantly (and as our editor so rightly pointed out) why is no one questioning the fact that “professional” photography has gotten to the point where it cannot stand without extensive post production? So many of these “before” pictures are JUST BAD CRAFT. If our Brit didn’t have a single spot of cellulite, three bruises and a camel toe (funny how they didn’t highlight that), this would still be a TERRIBLE PICTURE. It’s like everyone’s just stopped trying because they know they can fix it later.

Finally (am I a fashion conspiracist?) in the copy that accompanies this latest, Britney is quoted as saying, “My favorite set-up was against the gigantic wall of pink cotton candy.”

Really? Because it seems that wall only appears after the shots have been retouched.

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Pleather and Pain, or How I Broke Through the Space/Time/Fashion Continuum

Rachel’s friend Enda invited us to go dancing on a boat. “What should we wear?” we asked. “Whatever you want,” was his reply. “Something waterproof.”

As it turns out, very few of my clothes fall into that category. My old raincoat went into the charity bag this past spring. (It was hardly the sort of thing one would wear dancing anyway.) As I mentally reviewed the contents of my closet, I suddenly remembered a pair of PVC pants I’d acquired in the mid-1990s. Tight, black, and very tapered with lacing up the front, they were classic Le Chateau; cheap and cheerful. I knew they were still in a box somewhere, and I set out to find them. A few minutes later, as I yanked them out from under a stash of vintage fur collars, my next thought was to wonder if, after more than a decade, they would still fit. They did.

I looked at myself in the mirror; not only did they fit, they were surprisingly chic. With a white tank top and red flats, they were just the right mix of current and retro. They were just “new retro” enough to be edgy. Once I was done being pleased with myself for having kept them, I had a very disturbing thought: I had actually become old enough to reference myself – as an adult.

It was always normal to wear things my mother had worn (50s dresses, 60s shoes) or things my sisters had worn (disco-licious), but the clothes in my closet had been – until now – a one-round deal. This everlasting 80s revival doesn’t count either; I was only a teenager and aesthetically unrefined when New Wave was actually new, dressing at the mercy of my parents’ budget and approval. No, I was a grownup when I bought those pants. They were cool then and, somehow, I’d managed to live long enough for them to be cool again.

I am both amused and appalled. Of course, my reflections on the inexorable march of time and the cyclical nature of fashion have been validated, and my packrat tendencies have finally paid off. That’s quite nice. On the other hand, you know, I’m old.

A few days ago I was in the Salvation Army store. I found a fantastic dress – a long-sleeved, scoop-necked, black microfibre jersey thing. It’s exactly the sort of outfit Peter Lindbergh would have photographed for Vogue when I was in University. (It’s the sort of dress I would have bought myself if I could have afforded it – and if I hadn’t thought dresses too girlie by half.) I couldn’t resist trying it on; it looked great. There was nothing to do but pay the six bucks and hurtle headlong into my future – which, it appears, has been hiding in my past all along.

Ha.

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