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Archive for January, 2008

           Much like a recalcitrant, angst-ridden teenage artist, American Apparel is a tough store to love.  While there are so many aspects of the brand and company that recommend it, from offering living wages and other benefits to factory workers to providing well-cut-and-priced cotton basics, there are enough bad points that, if placed in a vacuum, should turn any decent person against it:  surly, drugged-out help, a lascivious CEO known for being overtly sexual to the point of being sued by former female employees, and ridiculous clothes that should never be worn in daylight to name but a few.  Perhaps (probably) this makes me weak, but I can’t help loving (spending money at) it anyway.

          Though it’s perhaps for the best, I seldom venture to the single physical location in Connecticut—despite being in Norwalk, it’s too far to walk to from where my office is, and doing my duty vis-à-vis Al Gore (i.e. commuting on the Metro North) leaves me with no car to use in the area.  As a result, I am usually an online-only customer, but every once in a while I am struck with such a strong desire for cheap underwear, T-shirts and shorts that even next-day shipping won’t satisfy my lust (plus, it’s expensive).  More importantly, visiting the physical store, whether in SoNo or SoHo, allows me the chance to throw the online versus in-person experience into sharp relief, and provides a sort of reality check when assessing the brand one way or the other.

          When browsing the online store, AA becomes a place with lots of reasonably-priced basics, some risqué advertising, and slide shows featuring nifty signs all over the world.  There are some innovative pieces like the Transformer of dresses (wear it at least 15 different ways!) and ridiculously cute intimates that rival the laciest offerings from Victoria’s Secret in sexiness.  Because you’re behind a keyboard and armed with a mouse, you can dictate your journey and therefore avoid anything that you have absolutely no interest in, such as copper lamé leggings, or one-piece bathing suits that resemble suspenders.  It’s fun, fairly convenient, and consumer-friendly—any order over $50 gets you free shipping, and there are constant online promotions that either save you money on merchandise or on expedited shipping.  It’s one of my favorite places to shop online.

Compare that AA to the retail store, and it instantly becomes clear why some people are vehement AA bashers.  The stores themselves are laid out fairly well, with lots of bright white walls and bright lighting that make the colors pop, and pop-up cards that denote where one product ends and another begins, but the fitting rooms aren’t all that great—shockingly, cotton curtains seldom succeed in fully cloistering one’s half-dressed self from the prying eyes of the younger and more toned!  Add to that any forced interaction with store associates in order to use one of the said fitting rooms, and what was once an innocuous trip to paw at jersey dresses turns into one more opportunity to be eyed up and judged, as if you were looking for entrance into The Loft (SoNo, not in NYC) instead of, say, trying on a $20 article of clothing.  I’m not one to say all American Apparel associates are bad—the kids in the SoHo location were actually pretty friendly to me the one time I went in, considering where they work—but perhaps due to its singular presence in the state, the kids manning the Norwalk store have perfected their looks of bored hauteur, insulted if their conversation pertaining to the post-modern importance of Avril Lavigne is interrupted.  Add to that the Fairfield County princesses dragging their checkbook-wielding mothers through the place as they collect piles of purple leggings to wear with skating dresses, and it’s much easier to dismiss the retailer in general.  Suddenly you realize exactly who subscribes to the (frankly) heinous shit they produce and promote, and it gets a little embarrassing to admit that you like even the wearable products.

          The solution to this dilemma, of course, is simple—I have since resolved to no longer patronize the Norwalk store, restricting myself only to buying products online.  I can cherry-pick the aspects of the brand that I want to associate with, and dismiss those that may spark a twinge of regret.  Coked-out associates?  Sexual harassment suits?  Not at the store I shop at! (Please note that my tongue is firmly placed in cheek here.  Bad customer service and employee harassment are not to be taken lightly, and as the company expands under new ownership, I’ll be watching them as I do any company I do business with). 

           Of course, the same day I decided to do this, I happened to check the upcoming store locations page (I heard a rumour that a store in my town was coming), and oh look, there it is.  I suppose the only thing I can do, then, is to see if it’s any good.  In the name of research, of course.

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Summer Overture;

On a random evening, I found myself wondering if the genius of the Requiem for a Dream website was still up; fortunately for all of us, it still is:

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Go to the webiste: http://www.requiemforadream.com/

 Seriously, it is one of the most innovative movie websites ever created.  ::sigh::

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One particularly late night sophomore year my roommate and I were flipping through the channels, looking for something to nod off to around 1:30 AM, when we stumbled onto some classic 60’s cartoons from Chuck Jones that didn’t feature Bugs Bunny and his ilk or Tom & Jerry for that matter.  Needless to say, we were enraptured. Fast forward, oh, six years, and an afternoon of poking around You Tube will yield the following: 

Easily one of the most aesthetically pleasing cartoons ever made (it won an Oscar back when those things actually meant something), and based on a children’s book written by the same author who brought you The Phantom Tollbooth.  

 

Caitlin found this cartoon to be of the Dadaist persuasion, and I always agreed with her.  There’s not much else that can be said about it, really, except that it also embraces my love of fonts. 

Until that night I had never seen this cartoon, but I loved it for its strangeness, its visual appeal and its clear wit.  Sure, it’s a random memory, but what are our memories but to infiltrate themselves at the silliest opportunity?

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(Image from Wikipedia).

 I’m rather on the fence on whether or not I like the new Comcast Center–granted, it’s immaterial, since it’s nearly complete.  It’s just weird seeing the skyline I’ve always known (and can see from my grandmother’s house) altered so dramatically.  Also, it’s a bit shiny for my taste.

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In addition to those personal resolutions such as eating healthier (and trying to avoid the sugar that’s all over my office) and consistently exercising (goal is 4-5 times per week), there are others that pertain more here and frankly are more interesting to boot: 

  • Read more.  My devouring of novels has cooled as of late, and I have so many good ones to finish (The Satanic Verses, Tropic of Cancer) that I need to not poke around on the Internet so much during the weekends and, you know, read.  At least to finish the two mentioned.
  • Watch more foreign films.  Though I am by no means a movie buff, there are a few that I’d really like to see this year as I gear up for the upcoming trip to Italy.  I’m starting with Fellini, and to that end I received La Dolce Vita for Christmas and from there, onwards and upwards to 8 ½.  Francois Truffaut is another director I’d like to dive into—and if anyone out there has further recommendations, please leave them in the comments below.
  • Re-embrace fashion.  This one is a little more difficult, to be honest.  The first step is actually the easiest—purging my closet of clothes that either have been a little too loved or those that just don’t work at all anymore—but from there, my mouth is quirking up into a bit of a smirk.  Perhaps it’s been the so-called commoditization of style—the outpouring of “celebutards” becoming paragons of personal style even though they are heavily managed by stylists has made looking through fashion magazines kind of a drag, and seeing that influence extend to stores makes trying to find anything interesting nigh impossible.  So this year I want to avoid the common rags and focus on being inspired by innovative photography, individuals with real personal style, and look to fictional characters of film and literature.  Rachel Zoe will not get me down.

We’ll see how this goes, I guess.

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Outside our apartment, Jan 1, 2008, 2:42 PM.

Hey sun–thanks for coming out to celebrate the new year.

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