Can American Apparel’s partnership with an LQBTQ coalition help restore its image?
American Apparel has launched a new campaign called ‘Make America Gay Again’ as the troubled fashion brand continues its turn-around journey after a chequered past that has seen a six-year long history of declining sales, controversial ads and a scandal-plagued former chief exec.
In partnership with Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and The Ally Coalition (TAC) the US fashion brand is producing limited-edition t-shirts and tank tops featuring phrases including ‘Make America Gay Again’ and ‘Make America LGBTQ Again’.
Thirty per cent of sales from the campaign will support the Equality Act and the fight to end LGBTQ discrimination. Make America Gay Again will also engage the public with web video content and in-store events featuring notable members of the LGBTQ and Ally community.
Musician Jack Antonoff, who co-founded The Ally Coalition with his sister, fashion designer Rachel Antonoff, said of the campaign: "Rachel and I founded The Ally Coalition to inspire fans to take action for LGBTQ Equality. During a year where LGBTQ rights are being threatened all over the states, everyone is responsible for coming together and challenging these injustices. I'm proud that The Ally Coalition is joining with American Apparel and The Human Rights Campaign to #MakeAmericaGayAgain."
The campaign is the latest in a string of activity in recent months for American Apparel that is focused around social issues, including a campaign to mobilise millennials during the US election season. The #whyvote campaign, which is housed on Instagram, encourages consumers to share visual content and vote, and kicked off with a short film that depicts issues such as gender equality, domestic production, immigration reform and LGBT rights. The retailer is also running a crowd sourcing campaign named Made in America to find accessories to sell in its retail and online stores.
Once a vanguard of style among its teen fans, American Apparel was the epitome of edgy with its preppy fashion, affinity for spandex garments and provocative ad campaigns. But since 2009, the last year it turned a profit, American Apparel has slowly been drowning, and has struggled to remain relevant to its millennial audience as it competes with fast fashion brands such as H&M and Forever 21.
American Apparel brought in new CEO, Paula Schneider to replace ousted founder Dov Charney, in January 2015 who promised to turn the brand from ‘chaotic to iconic’.