Sunday, July 23, 2006

Fashion Porn

No one who knows me
-- hell, no one who's ever seen me -- would ever expect me to say a word about fashion, and I'm not about to start. When it comes to clothing, I do little more than watch, and I've just discovered a store -- known, apparently, to the hipoisie, which is why I missed it -- called American Apparel which gives you a lot to watch.

I first heard about the company late last week, by way this article in The Toronto Star, which bemoaned the death of sublety in advertising, contrasting the sexy cheesecake ads of the old Springs Mills ads (coy, cute, suggestive) with the brazen advertising of American Apparel.

Naturally I looked up the company's site, and found they had a store in Columbia, which I visited and which is beautiful. It's one of those stores in the Vista area, which the city has been trying to repackage for the last decade or so as the place where all the cool people hang out, where all the tony shops are and the best places to eat. The store fits in well, even if it doesn't look like much from the outside. Inside its an explosion of color and taste. I'd say more but I lost interest once I saw the catalog, which makes Abercrombie and Fitch look about as edgy as The Baptist Courier, starting with the cover, in which a gorgeous topless girl is lighting a cigarette.

The contents were a little Nan Goldin, a little Nobuyoshi Araki, and a little Larry Clark, which is a redundant and pseudo with-it way of saying everyone was naked, tattooed and looked higher than fuck. Exhibitionistic, in a word: whores, tramps, junkies and all-round bohemians lolling around or getting head or bathing or kissing or crapping or smoking. As far as I could tell, the clothes were just your ordinary Gap stuff for anorexics -- although the company makes a big deal also of the fact that its all domestically produced -- but the (free) catalog was what the store was really selling: a lifestyle that says I'm young, beautiful, sexy, horny, ugly, dirty, hungover, smelly, and fuck you if you don't like it. No question this sells clothes.

Another thing that interested me: I found out later in the day that the owner, an narcissistic head case named Dov Charney, spent some time in Columbia in the late 1990s -- starting up a clothing store, going bankrupt, then starting over in L.A. and becoming a major success.

This stands as another contrast with Springs Mills, also headquartered in South Carolina -- a classier company in its day but one which has also spent the past year
gasping for breath.

3 comments:

Jerry Grillo said...

Can you suggest any BBQ joints where my sequined overalls would not seem out of place? The brown fabric of my wardrobe won't clash with the mustard-based South Carolina BBQ sauce, will it? WILL IT???

Jerry Grillo said...

Be sure to check out my upcoming biography of the semicolon. Punctuation is a passion of mine. Find out more by contacting me at fourcrickets@alltel.net (punctuation here)

RW said...

Well I'll be damned! Dude, where ya been? Know what? Kate turns 20 tomorrow. Sam cannot be far behind, can she?