a tangle of thoughts


I’ve shopping around for a navy cotton jumper for a while – something with the weight of a jumper but is still appropriate for Singapore weather. This has gone on fruitlessly for some time. I have an A.P.C Madras pullover I bought last year, misled by the 100% cotton description (it is TERRY cotton and denser than I'd expected). Despite being perfectly lovely and suitable for holidays in cooler climes, it remains pretty much unsuitable for 75% of the days here.

I was on the verge of buying a men’s Muji linen pullover. The colour and fit are perfect but I put it back on the shelf as I felt it bordered on being too sheer.

The other day, while browsing on ASOS, I saw a navy 100% cotton knit pullover that looked perfect...from American Apparel.

I have things from American Apparel dating back to my university days. I stopped shopping at American Apparel because their marketing and founder gave me the creeps, and the quality of the clothing often didn’t justify its rising prices.

I am very charmed by this sweater (plus I have an ASOS gift card!) But despite the credible testimony provided by my still-good six-year-old American Apparel t-shirts, I was disturbed enough by the brand to hold off making a purchase.

Then I became struck by the irony that I happily buy things from other mass market brands like Massimo Dutti even though I am not familiar with their manufacturing policies, but I am unwilling to buy something from a brand that has made a big deal about being made in America and not in sweatshops.

In short, I am perplexed by my train of thought - which is being torn in multiple directions (ethics vs convenience vs brand sentiment vs ???).

Have you ever been put off enough by a brand to not buy something, even though that something was great in all other ways?

(FYI, I decided that this whole navy jumper business was too troublesome and concluded that if I could get by for years without one, I don't need one after all.)

Picture from ASOS


Nomadic D. said…
I hear you and can totally relate. While I think that what's most important is probably the manufacturing standards, sometimes the marketing and branding of a label is so off-putting that it's impossible to overlook it. I totally agree with you that American Apparel is totally and utterly... icky... in that regard, but I will also say that both my husband and I have some great basics from there that I do not regret at all. I would say go for it since it sounds like just the right piece for you, but I understand your reluctance.

yes I've done it before. I find AA's marketing very off putting too, and from what I've seen the quality is not too great either. I remember being really tempted to buy those Steve Madden leopard loafers that everyone and their mama had...because they were the only "right" ones out there at the time, despite not wanting to wear SM. Then I saw their flimsy quality in person. So I waited and ended up with a getting a fantastic deal on a pair from J.Crew, made in Italy (not that I go out of my way for that sort of thing). So basically, if I'm patient eventually someone I like will do what I want.
Brigitte said…
I threw away the very few AA pieces I owned because Charney's business practices just don't jive well with me. It is very tempting to cheer on a company whose emphasis is on its Made in America label... but then Charney overshadows any good sentiment I want to feel for AA. I still appreciate Made in America but refuse to let AA be the company I support.

I'm sure when you least expect it you will find that gorgeous must-have item. :)
Ammu said…
I don't buy AA anymore for the same reasons you mention. Not crazy about APC either after reading what the founder had to say about Chinese people. That said, there are enough quality issues with both labels to make the choice relatively easy.
miau said…
If you ever change your mind about buying a cotton jumper, I think Esprit makes decent ones. I've had a few in my school days and some of them I still wear. About Massimo Dutti, perhaps you know what is that smell coming out of their shops? It's like a steam hand from a cartoon movie that just tempts you to come in!
Maja H said…
Another blogger grossed out by AA's advertising here. I will absolutely refrain from buying from brands whose marketing I don't like.

Example: I am currently boycotting a very popular Scandinavian online clothing store because their members magazine included some very unhealthy dieting tips "for summer" - not cool at all, and their target audience are girls 15 and up!

Companies like that just aren't worth my money.
Lindsay K said…
I've never purchased anything from American Apparel- I just can't support a brand that consistantly exploits young women and calls it advertising. Don't get me started on Charney's business practices. I refuse to buy into AA. The clothes are nothing special nor is the quality. I've also noticed both times I've been in the Soho store there's a rather unpleasant odor in the store (perhaps the vents need to be cleanned), which is something I just can't deal with.

There are a number of places that I won't shop at for ethical reasons, but I think that's something each has to decide for his/herself

Eileen said…
Hello Lin! I do not have anything from AA so I cant really comment on the quality. I wish there was more information available on brands that have good manufacturing practices. And sometimes, even if you know of them, the products must also appeal to you.
Anonymous said…

how about this one ? in terms of marketing, Petit Bateau is pretty far from AA... :p

I've only ever purchased a dress from AA but was so put off by the lewd photos that I'd never returned. This was before the big hoohah the founder himself.

Like you, I'm caught in a dilemma. There was some negative press about Alexander Wang's sweatshop like conditions in his factories but that doesn't stop me from wanting to buy more of his tees.
lin said…
nomadic d: I decided to skip it, haha. All things considered (including the brand), it wasn't perfect after all. And I hate buying things I agonised over...it's usually not worth the pain.

The bigger question for me is that I don't always question things so closely when I shop, and I wonder why...

Pret a Porter P: I've done the same...most recently with my Gap trousers last year. I'm trying to ease off though, and "if I'm patient eventually someone I like will do what I want" is totally in the right spirit!

Brigitte: I still have my t-shirts, since erm, they're in good shape and it would have been a waste! But you're absolutely right about AA, and writing the post actually helped me decide that.

Ammu: Good point.

miau: Ooh, good idea. I have an old grey cotton cardigan that I LOVE.

About Massimo Dutti, I often want to just move into their window displays.

Maja H: I admire your resolve!

Lindsay K: I think the fact that I agonised made it clear to me eventually that I didn't want to buy it. Buying decisions shouldn't be a struggle!

I Googled Charney some days back and thought, "argh", forget it.

Eileen: I agree, sometimes you try to look up information and it's impossible, or some very broad, sweeping corporate statement that doesn't really reveal much.

Anon: Ooh, nice! I think it doesn't ship here though, and Singapore's Petit Bateau is only for children, dammit. Thanks for the recommendation though!

Marlene: I think the charges against Wang were dismissed or dropped though, if that is any comfort, haha.

chrisbean said…
If you're disturbed by that, you should google up a copy of AA's staff handbook. Working there seems absolutely hellish!

I'm trying very hard to avoid purchasing anything by Proctor & Gamble, because they are owned by the very skeezy Koch brothers, a pair of billionaires who want to institute a fundamentalist theocracy in the U.S.; like a Christian version of sharia law. SO BAD for women, yet these guys make most of their money from women purchasing toilet paper and cleaning products. Gross!
caroline said…
I've been put off by a lot of companies and vowed to never let them have my business but I've failed. The one company that I for sure haven't contributed any of my money to is Forever 21. I was going to boast about how I haven't bought anything from AA in several years then realized I bought socks from them just 2 years ago (last time).

But I will say that AA's tri-blends are pretty soft. The other cotton is a bit heavy for my liking but the tri-blends have that softness. And if you're talking about the tri-blend pullovers, I loved them. I had two and wore them a lot until just recently & gave them away. I still wear my tri-blend cardigan which I'm embarrassed to admit its age. But ultimately I say what outweighs the other because if it's something you really want, what's the problem in just purchasing that.
Alexandra said…
I feel the same way about AA - overpriced for the quality. I love the tri-blend tees though!


Popular Posts