This post was inspired by the recent hoopla over URBAN OUTFITTERS and it's alleged plagiarism of small jewellery owner's designs from sites like ETSY. I am not going to delve into it here because already there were a lot of debate going on about this online elsewhere but nevertheless I just want it to be clear that I am firmly on the side of the Etsy people. All this business ethics question had me thinking about other types of ethical questions, this time concerning AMERICAN APPAREL (hereby addressed as AA in all following references) and its CEO's alleged sex charges (if you want to read all the news about it, click here.)
I am not going to discuss whether he was truly guilty of the charges or not here - so far I have not heard of any convictions and I suppose he is innocent until proven guilty. However when there are so many charges, I have to presume that something is going on around AA because when there's smoke theres's definitely fire. There are so many charges against DOV CHARNEY and I highly doubt so many girls would gather and gang up onto him this way. Because I have been reading so much about his abuse of employees, I have an extremely negative image of AA and I am rather happy to say that I don't have a single AA clothing even though supposedly it's all made in the USA and it would support workers in CA in the process. And on top of that, I never really had a thing for shiny spandex and body suits.
I have to say I was never too surprised that he had so many charges against him. After all, AA ads look like soft core porn. It's like before you click a TERRY RICHARDSON editorial, you just know that you'll have a 99% chance of seeing boobs - it's almost a given. I think Terry Richardson has his own charges as well. Anyway, I was never really too worried about buying things from AA and was actually gratified to see the company teeter on bankruptcy in the third quarter of 2010 (see here). But then soon after it seems as if Charney resuscitated the company by introducing a whole new slew of designs that were a total departure from the hipster club wear the company so aggressively marketed before. Somehow it felt like Charney (or the head designer/creative director) that had the stroke of genius to quickly abandon the hipster market to jump ship to sell to a greater audience. It already knew it had a bad rep for trashy offerings but it quickly changed its image by selling well designed basics that even I began to covet. I walked into an AA store the other day and was shocked that I had started making a mental checklist of things to buy. They had the perfect blouse with the cutest Peter Pan collar and jeans in soft pastel shades I just don't see anywhere else. It has emerged and asserted itself as a something of a more fashionable UNIQLO so much that I can't help but applaud Charney for turning the company around so quickly and so well. Of course, I duly walked out of the store without buying anything due to my conscience gnawing at me. However this raises the question: would I be a "bad person" if I did buy the clothes, all the while conscious of the doings of the CEO? Or should I just forget about it because I have no control over the greater scheme of things, that I cannot do much about the plight of the girls nor whatever Charney does, since in the very end I am nothing but a small small consumer? Or should I just go ahead and buy because it would support whatever is left of the clothing manufacturing sector in the US? Or yet again should I just stop being so pompous and self-absorbed and sock it because there are so much more important issues in the world at hand that I should be expending energy focusing on those problems instead? Food for thought.