03 October 2006

imagine my surprise (american apparel part deux)

when i checked email earlier this evening and found this note waiting for me:

Dear Kara.

I work on the Media Team at American Apparel. I would like you to
know that the Clamor Magazine writers did not come to visit the
factory, did not talk to any of the garment workers, and did not even
examine publicly available records. "Expose" or "Special
Investigative Report" their work is not. Please check the Clamor
blogs if you are interested in a discussion about journalistic

And if you are really interested in the claims of union busting and
sexual harassment at American Apparel, you will find out much more
information about these issues at www.knowmore.org. You might still
form an unfavorable opinion about AA, but at least it will be an
informed opinion. It is always sad to lose a customer (especially an
ethical consumer!) but if that customer turns away from us because we
have been irresponsibly slandered, it makes me mad.

Weronika Cwir
American Apparel.

fairly impressed that someone had apparently found my blog post from yesterday and took the time to write, i responded:

dear weronika, thank you for taking the time to contact me about this! i've been just sick, since i read the article. i have been a loyal customer for years, sending people your way whenever i'm asked about ethical clothing choices. i'm interested in as much information as i can find, and i pride myself on being informed. i appreciate the link that you've sent and will read it as soon as i close here. i'm curious, how did you find me?

thank you for your time! it does speak volumes that you did find me and that you wrote to me.


again, a response:

Dear Kara.

Every few days I read what people say about American Apparel on blogs; I do a Google Blog search, and that's how I found you. We are really interested in what people think about us, and we are totally open to criticism and dialogue. Even Dov, our CEO, who is super busy, spends hours on the phone talking to journalists from the tiniest publications, and in general to anyone who is interested. Which is why it really hurt to be written up by Clamor like that... I totally understand that they don't like our image, that they have different views on labour politics, and I totally support their right to express their opinion, but when I see a blatant misstatement of fact, my blood boils!

Hey, if you are ever in LA, come to visit the factory. Just drop me a line, and I'll arrange a tour for you.

a tour? if i happen out to helL.A. anytime in the future, i'm certain to take her up on the offer.

i've got to give kudos to a company that monitors the net for commentary about their business and responds directly. while i wonder if this is something that came about in response to the clamor article, and i imagine that it may be, it is a brilliant tactic. while aa is growing into quite a sizey company, i'm sure this is a cheaper alternative to trying to pull off a media blitz in response to the naysayers. and look! i'm blogging about it! i'm a good helper.

so of course i had to go and read what was contained in the link weronika sent, especially after being called to the mat about forming informed ideas. lengthy? yes. interesting read? yes again. should you read it? yup. here is is.

the section about UNITE's history was a bit of a surprise. i do have some issues with how organized labor operates - mostly stemming from a talk i went to several years ago in which there was a union higher-up in attendence. i watched him get into his shiny $60,000 car after it was over and drive away and couldn't help but think, "how does this guy even begin to know what
the workers are faced with everyday?" -- like the who so elequently put it, "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." the anarchist in me sneaks out once in awhile. i know, i know.

don't get me wrong - unions must exist to protect workers - the alternative is just plain bad, but it really sucks that unions typically end up being the very thing they rail against. a fat cat at the top collecting all the dues, and the trickle down is still just trickle down... i can't help but think there could be room for improvement.

as far the sexual harrassment goes, looks to be a murky deal... though i have to fully admit that the thought of seeing a ceo parading through a factory in his undies gave me quite a laugh. as for the ads, they tend to make me squirm a bit - but if i dig deeply enough into myself as to the why... well, thay's a whole 'nother post topic for another day. if nothing else, dov looks to be quite a character. and we all know how i like characters. i like you, after all. :)

in the spirit of fairness, i thought i'd pass all of this along. i'm thinking i'll send the knowmore link over to the folks at clamor and see if i get a response from their end.

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