There are no words.
I keep hearing the words. An article here, an article there. Usually in the Guardian and written by somebody who clearly squeezed themselves into a disco pant on multiple occasions in 2009, even whilst simultaneously hating the brand and all that it stood for, and how in hindsight everything seemed so sleazy, like we would one day look back on it with the same level of disgust that we might now view a picture of a grinning Jimmy Savile in a gold shell suit.
But this is not going to be a high-minded think piece about how one clothes shop could epitomise the backlash against fourth wave feminism before the backlash even properly started. This is going to be a love letter.
Because I loved you, American Apparel. I loved you with a passion that not even Topshop could inspire. Topshop had the occasional ropey piece, the occasional random bit of shiny plastic boob tube that it just couldn’t pull off, that looked so tatty next to the Joni jeggings and the normcore floral dresses that you could wear to work if they weren’t just that little bit too short. But it just didn’t have what American Apparel had. That sense of wonder when you walk into the shop, that sense that you could just pick up a little T-shirt there* and a grey marl hoody with weird batwing sleeves** there, and a hoody that was a dress***, goddamit, an actual dress! Like who would have even thought of such genius. And then a shiny bodycon dress****. And another one! In luminous pink!***** And leggings to match, because every girl needs a pair of luminous pink leggings******, right?
If I could make a mountain out of all my American Apparel clothes, I could probably put the entire company back in business. We could just sell all my clothes! Please, American Apparel. I know it’s no coincidence that your fortunes started to fade just as I got too old and fat to wear your clothes. I need to keep them now though, right? They might be worth something one day. I could get those old luminous pink leggings out on the Antiques Roadshow and we can overlook the chewing gum on the back, and they will be worth thousands. Fiona Bruce could do a whole feature on my American Apparel collection, while I stand there, eyes welling with nostalgic tears, about how I used to be thin, and young(ish), at least just about able to get away with top to toe spandex atop my Jeffrey Campbell platforms, and oh weren’t those just the days, those carefree days of the noughties when one thought nothing of dropping £70 on a pair of trousers called disco pants that you practically had to be sewn into, and then buying two more pairs in different colours because they were just so great, and a pair of miniscule hotpants in the same style, just because. Who doesn’t need a pair of shiny nylon hotpants?
American Apparel, I would love to say I boycotted you, you with your dodgy ethics and your even dodgier CEO, but I loved you, and I was happy to pour a hefty chunk of my salary into your failing profits each month. I’m just sorry that I alone couldn’t keep you afloat.
Farewell, American Apparel, and thank you for all the good times.
*I have one. Um, maybe more than one.
**It was a thing. I have one.
***A thing of beauty. I have one.
****Got that too.
*****God, I loved that dress.
******Where did I put those again?