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American Apparel Desperately Attempts To Get Its Life Together

After years of blatant overly sexualized advertising under former CEO Dov Charney, American Apparel is now turning the other cheek (pun intended). This change in direction has occurred in an attempt to attract millennials and recast the brand in a “positive, inclusive, and socially conscious light.” The label outlined its plan to take the brand from “chaotic to iconic” in a new presentation filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The move includes distancing the brand away from its racy ads of the past and towards a more inspiring, comprehensive strategy. This new move comes about during the legal battle between the former CEO and American Apparel Inc. On June 12th Charney sued the retailer and board member David Danziger alleging both parties defamed him in an attempt to keep him from winning the necessary votes to regain control of the company.

Last June American Apparel dethroned Charney as chairman and suspended him as chief executive, citing evidence of misuse of company funds and inappropriate behavior with employees. Charney has reportedly been accused of sexual assault and sexual harassment by employees, and its believed that the behavior went on for a while before the board decided to act. We live in a culture that excuses bad behavior by creative individuals. Artists, musicians and even business leaders with larger-than-life personalities garner respect for their ability to push the boundaries in their specific genres. However, there is a wide belief that people who push boundaries in one area of their lives often have a harder time respecting boundaries in other aspects of their lives. This belief can be used to justify harassment, assault and other harmful behaviors expressed by celebrities and other industry players. It’s one thing to shake our heads at someone else’s wild lifestyle, but turning a blind eye to behavior that crosses the line into non-consensual talk and action is a completely different animal that needs to be put down. Drama aside, this brand definitely needed a new look and I’m glad it’s finally happening. I can’t help but wonder if Dov Charney’s lack of boundaries had anything to do with the company’s super sexual advertising strategy. Hmmm. Let’s look at the label’s worst advertising blunders.


 

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If there was a textbook example of the word “fail”, American Apparel’s advertising strategy would be it. Dov Charney has proven to be a sick son of a….*ahem*. Trouble just seems to follow him everywhere he goes and these troubles are mainly of a sexual nature. In 2011 Irene Morales, a former employee, accused him of making her his sex slave. She filed a lawsuit that sought $260 million dollars, but it was later thrown out in court because it was reported that Morales had allegedly sent dozens of nude photos of herself to Charney after she stopped working for American Apparel. The label’s board did find him guilty of allowing an employee to post nude photos of Morales that was supposedly authored by her. The blog harassed and defamed Morales, but more importantly ran in conflict with certain California laws that strictly forbid falsely impersonating others online. I just find it bizarre that someone would write a blog and post pictures of themselves and say crazy things like that….about themselves. You can read more about the whole debacle here. This scumbag has also reportedly been cited for masterbating in front of a Jane magazine reporter during an interview! He’s also been accused by ex employees of conducting business meetings in the nude.  A video surfaced online of the former CEO dancing nude in the presence of two alleged female employees. American Apparel is one of those brands, like Urban Outfitters, that seemed to be so effortlessly chic and edgy to me but now it just makes me want to gag. This “new direction” is definitely a good idea, but it certainly won’t erase the damage Don Charney has done.

Kylie Jenner + Lips = Yawn

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I don’t know about you, but I am so sick of hearing about Kylie Jenner’s lips. Are they real? Are they fake? “HA! I KNEW THEY WERE FAKE!” Why the heck do we care? The allure around Kylie and her family is absolutely insane. I keep asking myself and everyone around me why are they here, but that’s a can of worms I don’t have the energy to open right now. Plastic surgery isn’t a terrible thing nor is it the issue surrounding Kylizzle. The problem I have with it is her age. No seventeen year old should be going under the knife, ever. I think it’s unhealthy for her self-esteem and incredibly irresponsible for her parents to allow her to get any surgery of that type.

I remember when I was seventeen. I was chubby, incredibly shy and I wasn’t the best at choosing clothes. But now looking back, as an adult, that stage of my life really wasn’t as bad as I thought it was. Yeah I felt like Shamu, but I had great friends, I got good grades, and I was always surrounded by people who loved me. I was extremely awkward, but what teenager isn’t? Our teenage years were a strange time for all of us; we weren’t children anymore, but not quite adults either. But if there’s been any time in my life I’m grateful for, it would be those years. Hands down.

My teenage years were a time when I got to know myself. I found out what I liked, disliked, who and what I wanted to be, what I stood for and valued. I thank God I had legs like an ostrich, a short trunk, and got overlooked by the varsity football players. Why? Because while they were chasing after tail, I was reading and comprehending at a college level. While my classmates were obsessing over what to wear to homecoming, I was practicing my violin solos. And when all the popular kids were going to parties, I was doing a superb job of not becoming a teen mother (we had quite a few of those at my school).

Seventeen year old Shaniece hated her flabby stomach, stretch marks, and little boobs. Twenty-six year old Shaniece loves her curves, wears her stretch marks with pride (like tiger stripes), and is fully enjoying her small boobs because she knows when she has kids she’ll wish they were small again. None of those insecurities matter in adulthood. That’s what I wish I could tell Kylie. They’re just lips! You’re still wildly attractive! I’m not condoning what she did but there is something people are failing to recognize: Kylie’s been growing up in the public eye for a while now. What may seem like a dumb teenage insecurity issue to us is magnified exponentially in her case. She constantly sees the embodiment of how society says she’s “supposed” to look like in her older sisters. Everyone expects her to follow in their footsteps, to be as cool or chic as them. That’s an incredible amount of pressure for a seventeen year old to have to deal with. Now throw in the fact that her mother is whoring out the family’s privacy for a quick buck, her dad’s now public struggle with being transgendered, and a completely clueless twenty-five year old father of one who’s praying on her innocence. With all that going on in the environment around her, for Kylie Jenner, using lip fillers is as serious an offense as getting a speeding ticket.

I don’t fault her for wanting full lips, or going under the knife at all. Hell, if I could afford liposuction I’d suck the fat out of everywhere. Kylie’s a kid, the real problem here is irresponsible parenting. Let’s just call a spade a spade, people. If my baby girl came to me and told me how much she hates her huge thighs, I’d tell her that every brick house and fine mama jama needs a strong base to keep her grounded. From a young age, I’d teach her that every freckle, imperfection and flaw makes her special and is absolutely necessary. I would not feed into her insecurities and suggest she alter her appearance, which is the route Kris Jenner took.

We need to do a better job at teaching our young girls to love themselves, flaws and all. Everyone loves to claim that they woke up like this

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(pun intended), but that just isn’t reality. We have this unhealthy obsession with perfectionism and pop culture feeds it. It sounds so cliche, but nobody’s perfect. No matter how hard your makeup bangs, how great you hair is on any particular day, or the superb level of fleek your eyebrows are on you will never be perfect, ever. And that’s ok. Every morning, I walk past the bathroom mirror as I enter the shower. Sometimes I stand there in front of it a little longer than necessary, stark naked, and stare. I look at my small breasts, my love handles (I call them handlebars), my thick thighs, my full backside and I say to myself, “Damn! I’m fine!” (quite loudly). I love the skin that I’m in, I love my flaws, I even love my little kangaroo pouch I get when I’ve eaten too much (my sister and I have coined this phenomena as a “food baby”). My awkward teenage years are to thank for that. I’m still awkward, and a little weird, but I own it. All my catch phrases, strange habits, and eclectic points of view are what makes me me. So yeah, I don’t give a hoot about Kylie Jenner’s lips. The tragedy in Nepal is more important than Kylie Jenner’s lips. Disbanding ISIS is more important than Kylie Jenner’s lips. And paying back Sallie Mae for my student loans is more important than Kylie Jennner’ lips. Imperfection is beauty, revel in yours.

Stay beautiful ❤

You Can’t Sit With Us: The Real Reason Behind Why the Fashion World Has No Time For Kanye West

Naeem Khan Spring 2015 RTW lela rose spring 15  Naomi Campbell

The purpose of Fashion Week, for those of you who don’t know, is to initiate the two major seasons—fall and spring— in which designers present their new collections for the fashion press, retail buyers, and other influential people in the industry. This year’s festivities were jam packed with furs, embellishments, feathers, and a new appreciation for the color orange. There were a lot of hits and a few misses, but no designer struck out nearly as bad as the monstrosity that is Kanye West. By now you’ve probably heard all the hype, or lack thereof, surrounding Kanye’s Adidas Originals Collection.

I honestly don’t even know where to begin. I’m still recovering from his post-Grammy’s rant about Beck not respecting true artistry, even though the man plays literally thirteen instruments and was the only writer on his latest album versus Beyonce’s twenty-five (and I feel that we should put an asterisk by Bey’s name on that list, because who really believes that woman writes her own music? Not I). But I digress. I guess now’s a good time to warn you guys that I’m about to go on a little bit of a rant of my own, but I promise you it’s absolutely justified.

Kanye West is full of shit, everyone knows that. But the gravity of just how much shit he’s actually full of didn’t quite hit me until I saw this line, and the shenanigans that followed. Everyone who is anyone has weighed in on the it.

The Washington Post said, while it was his best effort so far, he ” didn’t dazzle the eye.”

Refinery29 called it “meh.”

And an Uber driver called it ” a bit frumpy.”

But there was no criticism that echoed louder than that of fashion icon and creator of New York Fashion Week, Fern Mallis. “I’m kind of over Kanye,” she told the New York Post. “I mean, I’m not a fan of his music, and the attitude and the agenda is not my style.” Well, in true Kanye style, he responded to the criticism like the asshole he is. He defended himself, his (booty ass)  collection, and his “vision” on Twitter in a nine-series hissy fit.

“To Fern Mallis: I just want you to understand that attempting to do [a] clothing has been very difficult”

“And I have encountered countless amounts of bigotry along the way. I have millions of ideas, and I represent a new generation just trying to express themselves in a broken world.”

“I don’t call myself a designer as I was not allowed to go to Saint Martins – because I was too famous by the time I realized I wanted to design. Fame is often looked down upon in the design world, so it’s actually been something I [have] had to overcome.”

“All we have are our dreams, and you can step our dreams and ideas all you want, but we won’t stop fighting.”

“We want to innovate and we will win someday. If you wanna have a drink with me, book a table at the spotted pig when I’m back in NY.”

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Who the hell does this idiot think he is? I mean really. Fame has been his cross to bear in life, is that what he’s saying? And it’s been his dream to have piles upon piles of ratty dish rags, holey socks, and Salvation Army rejects sewn together, draped over fifty or so models, and walked down the runway in a seemingly zombified stupor? And who are “we”? What is he even talking about? Look, I’m not bashing him because he sucks as a designer; I’m bashing him because he sucks as a human being. It’d be one thing if he was just bad at making clothes, but it’s an entirely different thing to be horrible and have the audacity to be an ass about it.

Fashion is something I live, eat, sleep and breathe; that is why this maniac’s buffoonery has me so heated. There are people in the industry, many of which, who have devoted their whole lives to fashion. Individuals who have came from and started with nothing, worked tremendously hard, and made it against odds that we couldn’t even begin to fathom unless we walked in their shoes. This isn’t a game to them, it’s their lives’ work. And to have some crazy, egotistical lunatic bastard come in and desecrate the very thing they’ve devoted their entire beings to makes me want to scream. There are so many other worthy (and real) designers out there that would’ve appreciated that opportunity, and he just squandered it. And to add insult to injury, he fires shots at the very woman that created the platform which gave him the opportunity to show those fugly, post-Apocalyptic pieces of whatever. And we’re just supposed to let it slide because, like he explained to the crowd after arriving late (yet again), he’s “only human”.

Another thing that (for in an attempted to cut back on using such colorful language) grinds my gears, is the fact that many of these celebrities think that money and the strength of their names are the only things they need to successfully launch a career in fashion. Somehow they think that it’s super easy, and won’t take too much effort. Wrong, wrong, wrong! I was a pre-med student studying to be a brain surgeon before I got into fashion design, and ultimately merchandising and journalism. Learning how to trace a drop of blood through the heart, while balancing on one leg, in roller skates, with one eye covered, and trying to chew bubble gum is easier than trying to design an entire line from start to finish. You have to have a concept, why are you making this? What are you making? For who? What are your demographics? Geographics? Psychographics? What’s your brand’s message? Why should anyone buy what you’re making? What are your target consumers’ average disposable income? What types of things do they do for fun? Where do they vacation? Where do they usually shop? What’s their marital status, do they have children?These are the questions they should be asking themselves, the same questions Mr. Kardashian obviously didn’t ask himself. And what kills me is that, as an artist, he’s pretty damn familiar with all of these concepts. I mean, it’s how he’s able to market himself as a musician and make money.

*sigh*

Let’s examine the specimens, shall we?

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adidas Originals x Kanye West YEEZY SEASON 1 - Runway

As I look at what sits before me, I can’t help but be confused. The pieces are frumpy, impractical, boring, full of holes, and just plain ugly. The only piece that  kept me from flat-lining  slightly piqued my interest was the military jacket Kim was seen wearing in the audience, but there was really nothing special about it. None of the pieces are aesthetically pleasing, and that is my main issue with them. As a consumer, I don’t buy ugly clothes. I also don’t buy clothing that isn’t well-made, or doesn’t fit properly. These pieces are comically over-sized. Why? No one seems to know.

In an interview with Style.com writer Dirk Standen, Kanye was asked if he’d seen what people are saying about the line, he replied:

| ” Oh, no, they just need to have the clothing. Anyone that has a negative comment just needs to have the clothing in their life. I don’t need to read that because it’s not going to inspire me in any way. I don’t need any more negativity in my life [laughs] to make me work harder. I can’t possibly physically work harder. I have to tell myself to go to sleep.” |

After reading that, all I could do is just sit and stare blankly at the computer screen. I sat there for quite some time, but once I got myself together I had a lot to say (and much of it was riddled with inflammatory language). First off, from a business standpoint, I don’t see how what he’s saying makes since. If I had just released something to the public (a line, a blog post, a sweater collection for kittens, ect.) I would want to know how people felt about it, and what their thoughts were. I’d actually be hanging off the edge of my seat in anticipation. As an entrepreneur, I know that it’s imperative to offer a product that will meet the consumer’s needs and get them motivated to buy it. If I willingly choose to disregard what the public, possible consumers of my product, has to say about it, what kind of message am I sending?

The message Kanye’s transmitting is clear: He doesn’t give one southern fried f-ck about anyone but himself. You don’t need to read what people, who may have been interested in buying this crap beforehand, have to say because it won’t inspire you in any way? Because you don’t need to work harder? Well, their comments and critiques should inspire you Kanye. They should inspire you do a hell of a lot better because what we saw on Thursday was total bullshit. And you most definitely need to work harder, give up sleep entirely if that means you’ll make something that isn’t as vapid and boring as your wife. Stop trying to paint this false picture of you enduring bigotry, because that isn’t the case at all. You aren’t being oppressed, you’re being rejected. And, by the looks of things, I’d say it’s justified.

I’m all for fashion being walking art, and Kanye is definitely within his right to create what feels true to him. It isn’t even the fact that the clothes are ugly. I mean, they are but it’s much deeper than that. His emotionally-charged antics, rude behavior, and total disregard for others is sickening. He loves to be the center of attention, yet he isn’t mentally or emotionally fit to handle criticism. He can take shots at his ex (see: Amber Rose), devalue the hard work of other artists (see: Beck, Taylor Swift), and go on a full rant at the drop of a hat (see: Jimmy Kimmel). He has absolutely no qualms with giving his two cents about others, especially when it isn’t warranted.  But he completely loses his shit when people tell him his clothes are ugly and he has no talent as a designer, both of which show a strong correlation towards the truth.

Just writing him off as a narcissist would be an injustice to humanity. Kanye’s tomfoolery is the product of his own tarnished self-image. How many normal functioning adults, who are secure with themselves and confident in their abilities, do you know of that kirk out on people for the smallest things? Not many, right? Kanye isn’t sure of himself, and his arrogance shouldn’t be mistaken for confidence. He clearly is bothered from the negative reviews he’s gotten, because if he wasn’t, Twitter would have nine less incomprehensible and angry tweets. He cares what people think about him, and he desperately wants to be accepted by the fashion industry. The ego, the over-inflated since of self, and the delusional behavior are all part of the show. It’s a game of smoke and mirrors designed to make you believe he’s something and someone he isn’t. He’s been running the same act for so long, and now he’s at a place where he believes his own deceptions.

Mr. Kim K’s torn and tattered, Matrix-chic clothing line is a direct reflection of who he is as a person and who he is inside. Ugly, lackluster, and incomplete. It almost makes me want to pity him, but I know he’ll do or say something ridiculous to make me regret that. I usually don’t post much about celebrity nonsense, but I felt it necessary to give my thoughts on this. I’m tired of Fashion Week, and fashion in general, being treated like a public spectacle. With every passing year it’s becoming less and less about the artistry. I’m bothered by the fact that Kanye’s relevancy, not his fashion prowess, is what got Anna Wintour seated front row at his show next to his hollering child. These events aren’t about the designers anymore, everyone’s main concern is who sat in the front row at who’s show and what were they wearing. I’m praying for the day when designers are more selective of who they allow to attend their shows. Only the press, buyers, other industry leaders, family, and a few friends should be allowed to attend. No socialites, no reality tv cameras, no good girls gone bad, no individuals who have ninety-nine problems (a b-tch not being one of them), no mom-agers, no crying babies, and definitely no airheads who really believe that they invented the selfie (I’ll let you guess who said that one).

But i seriously doubt that day will come. Fashion is a business, and the main purpose of any business is to make a profit. As much as I hate the thought of it, these designers invite celebrities to their shows to create a frenzy surrounding their lines. It’s been that way for years and it’ll probably remain that way for many to come. Think of how many celebrities have become the faces of major brands. Rihanna for Balmain, Beyonce for H&M, Kendall Jenner for White Sands. Effective marketing at it’s finest, and I’m all for that in terms of ad campaigns. But where do they draw the line? What would possess Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing to make KimYe the new faces of Balmain? What was Anna Wintour  smoking  thinking when she allowed them to be on the cover of Vogue? Sales, plain and simple. Relevancy has replaced talent, and that has become the biggest tragedy to date.