Globalization and the Reputation of American Apparel Incorporated, Essay Example

Introduction

Labour and employment are among the two most impending issues that confront the society especially when it comes to the consideration of the globalization of several business organizations around the world. The American Apparel Incorporated founded by Dov Charney was first introduced to the American society in 1989. With T-shirts being its forefront product, American Apparel Inc established a new reputation for the American fashion that the society itself embraced. Nonetheless, Dov Charney’s organization is not the same as others. Perhaps what makes it more distinctive among others is that of its culture and the intrinsic value that it is known for. Charney, being a Canadian himself has a feel for providing the less-American the chance to experience the American culture more[1]. This included immigrants from other countries who tend to search for greener pastures in America. Relatively, what Charney did was to create an environment that would basically welcome the immigrants and have them realize their self-worth through receiving ample provisions from the administration and the government as well like that of the Americans themselves.

Reportedly, Charney provides higher salary grades to immigrants compared to other companies employing minorities into their business[2]. He is also noted for allowing them the benefits of a regular American employee through registering them in employment program support systems that are offered in the country. Looking at this matter alone, some might say that working in the American Apparel sweatshops is indeed a good choice for most immigrants. However, beyond the good reputation that these provisions impose on the business, Charney’s attitude towards his workers seems to ruin such rapport. In the discussion that follows, a discussion on the issues faced by the American Apparel Inc as a business and as a member of the modern fashion industry shall be given attention to.

Exploring the issues

            At the beginning of the operation of the business, Charney appeared to be the “hero”, the “champion” of the minors. Giving them an equal opportunity of earning, Charney’s company represented a supposed hopeful source of confidence for immigrants in America. Sarah Gilbert even said that “CEO Dov Charney has called for legalization of foreign workers, and he’s helped promote his cause with billboards and T-shirts proclaiming “Legalize LA.” This is great; I almost admire the factory for employing such a huge number of illegal immigrants — at least someone is giving them work” (2009).  However, as years progressed and the operation of the American Apparel began to widen out, such reputation became deem and the consideration over equal-job-opportunities have has been buried under the many issues that included discrimination, sexual offences [both towards the employees and through their marketing campaign], and issues on a questionable culture on treating employees as they are set to work in non-convenient environment of sweatshops[3].

The issues did not take a great toll on the business until the introduction of the great campaign towards globalizing business in 1993. As the business expanded the system of operations as well as marketing the products the business offers has become aggressive and at some point evasive of the values that others perceive to be important. Systems of operation have gradually changed as the administrators of the American Apparel decided to hire offshore employees with at least 2,000 population while letting go of 500,000 employees located in the United States[4]. Downsizing the cost of expenses while increasing the chances of gaining more profit was the primary aim of the organization as they considered the aspect of getting workers from outside the country and adding up sweatshops in remote areas. Due to this, job security has become a great issue among the members of the organization. Unions were established, however later on abolished when their organizations were realized by the administrators. Fighting against the fear of losing their job has placed the business in an unstable position especially that orders for new sets of apparels for distribution never stop coming in.

Being a producing and retailing company and an ambition to grow further, the American Apparel needed to consider the fact that such condition of work and business status needs to undergo a sense of power control over the people; and that is what the company embraced as its new system of operation. UNITE or the Union of Needletrades and Industrial Textile Employees[5] have provided the members of the American Apparel with the chance to speak out their voices and show what they can do against what their administrators are imposing on them especially on the part of the owner, Dov Charney. While the union was being established in the company though, the management team alongside the administrators had their own way of inciting fear among employees which hindered most of them from incurring considerable positions in the union.

Critics call this particular approach to business as administrational paternalism. Turning a supposedly “free sweatshop” system into a hyper-capitalist-socialist fusion approach, Charney has become one of the most power-hungry business organizers in the country. Jumping into the band wagon of globalization, Charney also finds himself specifically retrenched in the idea of liberal marketing. Considering that he has been accounted for sexual harassment among his employees several times, Charney’s approach to marketing his products also impose on such reputation. Exploring on sexual promiscuity as a sense of a come-on to his target market is believed to have characterized the marketing strategy of the company ever since. At some point, Charney explores the supposed “excitement” that sexual messages impose on the young generation [who he mostly targets as his buyers in the market] hence creating on them a sense of freedom and liberty to expose themselves the way they like to[6].

These are only among the issues that this discussion shall provide closer attention to. It is with the use of these points of discussion that the impact of globalization on the fashion industry [particularly on the business operations of American Apparel Inc] shall be further explored herein. Relating the attention towards the conditional situation of the employees and how this is later on passed on to set the reputation of the company shall be considered herein as a sense of chain reaction that imposes the leadership of Charney over the company’s operations.

Liberalization, Feminism and Freedom of Presentation

            Overall, the culture of the American Apparel both inside and outside of its administrational control remains directly connected to the indicative themes of liberalization, feminism and freedom of presentation. As globalization itself salutes the same values, being global as a business seems to be perfectly in line with the recognition of such matters becoming a part of the regular lifestyle and operational culture that business organizations should recognize. This is somehow the characteristic that the American Apparel embraces at present. Intrinsically, cases regarding the fact that Charney is over-offensive with his women employees have flooded the press releases regarding the inside scoop on what is happening behind the administrative doors of the company. Charney himself is considered to be speaking insulting words to women and at some point overly oppressing them as being members of the weaker gender[7]. This image of Charney is specifically reflected in his marketing campaigns as well.

At one point, those who may be new to seeing the marketing campaigns, slogans and posters of the company might consider the process rather directive towards the possibility of relating more to the public audience. Charney seldom uses celebrity endorsers. Instead, he is more known for his utilization of his own employees as the models of his apparel. Usually young, hip and sexually attractive, these young women from his own employees are used to pose using his apparels. Charney makes it a point that the appearance of the campaign would be as much eye-catching as possible hence suggesting that the models be as bare as necessary[8]. If not bare at all, there are some revealing parts that are usually able to get the attention of passer-bys. Is this approach to marketing successful? Relatively, yes.

As it could be seen, the modern industry of fashion salutes the idea of liberalization. A part of this is defining the human body [particularly that of a woman’s] as a perfect couture that is simply embedded by clothing to enhance its beauty further. At some point though, such an approach to marketing also seems offensive to the feminine gender. Presenting them as objects of passion and lust, women become less appreciated when they do not pose the same characteristics as the models do and worse, are not respected for their being anymore. The conditioning of the mind of the consumers towards such envisioning of the worth of women in the society specifically operates to create a sense of oppression against women even at work; which is the truth that binds the situation of women employees working in the sweatshops of the American Apparel.

Does the society condone such practice of suggestive marketing? Sad truth is no. Understandably, globalization, being rooted in the course of freedom makes a comprehensive recognition of such approach as a mere expression of one’s self. Utilizing the thought of what is most appealing to the market is the primary basis of such marketing hence making it legitimate and acceptable in most communities around the globe. Does it suggest promiscuity? Some may say no, and some may say yes. This is the reason why at some point, interpreting such approach to a marketing campaign is accounted based on the thinking of the consumers looking at it. Bottom line is, if the campaign does bring in more profit, then it is likely effective, hence making it acceptable. While it is considered influential to the minds of the buying public, the interpretation of the said presentations still remain in the thoughts of the people looking at them. Understandably, marketing personnel account the public for the interpretation of such posters, slogans and other marketing paraphernalia. They will never tend to admit that they are trying to influence the morals of the public, instead, they shall argue that they are simply influencing them to buy and nothing else[9]. Nevertheless, no matter how much they deny, they can never say that these campaigns do not have anything to do with the increasing number of crimes and sexual offences incurred against women around the globe today.

Conclusion

            It is evident enough that globalization is a system that governs the world today, especially in consideration with modern business operations. It could not be denied that it sis with this system that most businesses depend their cultures upon. In the aim of increasing market influence while relatively gaining more profit, business organizations make it a point that they follow the trend the globalization itself sets. This is the situation that envelopes the American fashion industry. Mirrored in the changing culture of the American Apparel which has been noted to be one of the pioneers in the industry, it could be noticed how a small production and retail store become noticed in the market and now sells over millions of dollars annually all over the globe.

Success however has its own downsides. As for the American Apparel Inc, its founder Dov Charney and the reputation he has made upon himself is reflected upon his company and is now becoming a source of controversy between his credibility as a person and his reputation as a business owner[10]. Is it justified enough for a business owner to go over the edge of morality just so to embrace the impacting benefits of globalization into a profiting organization? As for the American Apparel, it could be noticed in this write up how it basically created a new culture for the American fashion industry and has gradually changed the path of attention and intentions of modern marketing especially when it comes to creating campaigns for apparels and clothing lines in the United States.

References:

Palmeri, Christopher (2005-06-27). “Living on the Edge at American Apparel”. Businessweek.

Vernon, Polly (30 November 2008). “American Apparel Label of the Year“. London: The Guardian.

Jamie Wolf (2006-04-23). “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?”. New York Times Magazine.

Dean, Jason (September 2005). “Dov Charney, Like It or Not“. Inc Magazine.

Bell, Michele (August 2004). “Dov Charney: Rebel With A Cause“. The Counsellor.

Gilbert, Sarah. (2009). American Apparel: the downside to sweatshop-free labor. http://www.dailyfinance.com/2009/07/01/american-apparel-the-downside-to-sweatshop-free-labor/. (Retrieved on February 26, 3012).

[1] Bell, Michele (August 2004). “Dov Charney: Rebel With A Cause”. The Counsellor.

[2] Bell, Michele (August 2004). “Dov Charney: Rebel With A Cause”. The Counsellor.

[3] Dean, Jason (September 2005). “Dov Charney, Like It or Not”. Inc Magazine.

[4] Dean, Jason (September 2005). “Dov Charney, Like It or Not”. Inc Magazine.

[5] Jamie Wolf (2006-04-23). “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?”. New York Times Magazine.

[6] Jamie Wolf (2006-04-23). “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?”. New York Times Magazine.

[7] Jamie Wolf (2006-04-23). “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?”. New York Times Magazine.

[8] Jamie Wolf (2006-04-23). “And You Thought Abercrombie & Fitch Was Pushing It?”. New York Times Magazine.

[9] Vernon, Polly (30 November 2008). “American Apparel Label of the Year”. London: The Guardian.

[10] Vernon, Polly (30 November 2008). “American Apparel Label of the Year”. London: The Guardian.