First, there’s company owner Mike Jeffries. His colossal douchiness rivals the masters (i.e., Dov Charney and Christian Audigier), and while our collective ire appears to have shifted to American Apparel (perhaps correctly, given the company’s illegal, beauty-based employment practices and porny advertising), Mike Jeffries shepherded A&F through some borderline pedophilia and hyper-sexualized orgy scandals of his own in the early 2000s. It’s all left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth.
Then there’s the flagship store on 5th Avenue in Midtown which mystifies and annoys me daily. The store puts great effort into what it does with customers *before* they enter. They assemble customers into orderly lines. They herd them behind velvet ropes. They provide them with underfed, shirtless male models to gaze upon while they wait. After customers exit the store, however, well, you can just go ahead and do whatever the hell you want. Sure! Have a seat in the middle of the sidewalk with all your clueless teenage friends! No, don’t worry about it Midwestern Dad Who Seems to Be In Charge of These Kids and Should Know Better! Y’all go right ahead: Kick back and rest your stupid haircuts on the overpriced sweatshirts you just purchased while you Instagram about how awesome it all is on your iPhones. It’s not like we’re in midtown-fucking-Manhattan and anybody is trying to use the sidewalk to actually get anywhere. Arg!!!
And of course, there’s the toxic stench. It courses through the ventilation system of the stores and emanates out to the sidewalk, where it assaults the olfactory sensibilities of passersby whose desperate progress past the store has been impeded by the teenage sidewalk furniture. Oh, but if only that’s *all* it was doing:
Recently, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics released details of A&F’s signature men’s fragrance “Fierce,” which contains 11 chemicals not disclosed on the label. According to the Campaign, one of the chemicals is one that has been shown to alter DNA in sperm, though there’s no scientific verdict on its safety.
The hell you say! My favorite part about this story is that it was a bunch of teenagers who descended upon the store in protest. When I was a teenager, I was mostly concerned with whether my friends would choose to hang out somewhere that I could reasonably ask my parents to drop me. (“Near the railroad tracks, down by the river” probably wasn’t going to fly.) But I guess this did happen in San Francisco. They start ‘em on the path of righteous indignation early out there!