American Apparel Responds to Nancy Upton

nancy upton 3 1.jpg
American Apparel has responded to plus-size contest winner/protester Nancy Upton, who we wrote about yesterday. AA's creative director Iris Alonzo sent Upton--and a number of news outlets--a long letter explaining the contest's motives and letting her know that she didn't actually win (something Upton says she wasn't really trying to do anyway, though she was voted into first place). It's super long but we've excerpted parts after the jump:

Dear Nancy Upton,

My name is Iris Alonzo and I am a Creative Director at American Apparel. Along with four other women, I conceived of the Next BIG Thing campaign for American Apparel. Firstly, we are very sorry that we offended you. Our only motive was to discover and celebrate the many beautiful XL women around the globe who enjoy our brand, and to promote the recent size additions to our collection. Nothing more, nothing less. We would also like to assure you that no one is getting fired over your stunt, as you expressed concern about in a recent interview. We are fortunate to have a great boss who trusts and believes in our instincts and ideas, and we are still very excited about all of our Next BIG Things and looking forward to meeting our new XL brand ambassadors.

It's a shame that your project attempts to discredit the positive intentions of our challenge based on your personal distaste for our use of light-hearted language, and that "bootylicous" was too much for you to handle. While we may be a bit TOO inspired by Beyoncé, and do have a tendency to occasionally go pun-crazy, we try not to take ourselves too seriously around here. I wonder if you had taken just a moment to imagine that this campaign could actually be well intentioned, and that my team and I are not out to offend and insult women, would you have still behaved in the same way, mocking the confident and excited participants who put themselves out there?

It continues...

In the past, American Apparel has been targeted for various reasons, many times by journalists who weren't willing to go the extra mile to even visit the factory or meet the people in charge. Dov is a great executive director and American Industrialist, but there are hundreds of other decision-makers in our company, over half of whom are women. I suppose you have read a few too many negative pieces about us that have helped to form your opinion of who we are and what we stand for, and perhaps this has clouded your ability to give us a chance. I get it. I read some of it too. As a creative who isn't always the most tactful and tends to stay away from the limelight, maybe I haven't spoken up as much as I should have over the past 8 years that I've worked at American Apparel. Perhaps I could have shed some light on some issues that have been left cloudy over the years. However, sensational media will always need something to latch on to and success, spandex and individuality (and mutton chops circa 2004) are certainly easy targets.

And ends (emphasis mine):

Oh - and regarding winning the contest, while you were clearly the popular choice, we have decided to award the prizes to other contestants that we feel truly exemplify the idea of beauty inside and out, and whom we will be proud to have representing our company.

Please feel free to contact me directly anytime. If you want to know the real scoop about our company before writing a story, I've got it (or if I don't, I can put you in touch with the person that does!).

Best of luck,

Iris Alonzo
Creative Director
American Apparel

Funny contrast with the CEO's attitude towards Upton's project ("That's crazy; I like that."), right?

Nancy Upton sent me the following statement:

"After receiving Iris' email (along with several news outlets, despite it being addressed to me), I've decided to take a deeper look at American Apparel's commitment to social responsibility. I'll respond to Iris, publically per her decision, by the end of the week."

Previously: Nancy Upton Takes On American Apparel's Plus-Size Campaign and Wins

[rgray@villagevoice.com] [@_rosiegray]

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10 comments
betsy
betsy

i find the letter upsetting, i find that the popular winner was not chosen and i find that the models of the 'regular' size women and unattractive and underage for the clothes they are styling.  i guess its funny that they are taking the "XL" sizes, that they already have for most of the basic pieces that they show on regular size models, and i am not offended by that..i am offended at the past models are so unattractive that it is hard to look at the clothing.  this company needs to re think the whole idea of what women want.  get it together cuz there is some good stuff here, but because i am offended by them in general i can find all the clothing else where, dance stores, the ca mart, santee alley..........get my point.

Seediore
Seediore

American Apparel's Creative Director, Iris Alonzo, is just upset because Nancy Upton saw their model search contest for what it was and exposed it. They continue to ridicule normal sized women with their euphemisms and mocking insults and then are offended because we're not grateful for that ridicule, thinly disguised as "supporting natural -- and completely normal -- full-figured women." American Apparel's so-called "conscious effort to change" current perceptions actually REINFORCES them through their poor choice in marketing strategy.

Britain
Britain

If the bold bit is an exact quote, I just can't believe they can be so stupidly child-like, what? "We don't like that you won, so you didn't!" Vote and choose a winner, then votes are ignored? Well done chaps and gels.

NoSexCity
NoSexCity

Their owner has faced how many accusations of sexual misconduct with his own workers, not to mention discrimination int the work place ... I mean, nobody takes this company or it's directors of any level seriously at this point... Right? *crickets*

Really loving the part where they imply she's done something wrong via her response/winning the contest. Guess they liked the idea of people voting for their favorites in theory only, eh?

jasperb
jasperb

i find it somewhat interesting that iris alonzo's avatar on the american apparel site is currently a picture of her ass with a giant red handprint on it. so empowering

NoSexCity
NoSexCity

It's foolish to assume you can label what is or isn't empowering to any woman--Be they Upton or Alonzo.

WaxBrain
WaxBrain

$50 for a t-shirt that's too small, just cos it's 'teal'? Fuck off. And the 'clothes'......what the fuck? are hipsters really into looking like Boomers in the early 80's that much? That was like the worst time in fashion's history. And besides who in their right mind WANTS to be a Boomer? Shite.

Jackiewessel
Jackiewessel

I am in my right mind, I am a boomer and I like being one. I'm thankful that I successfully passed though the know-it-all hipster phase of my life and I don't care to go through that again. Furthermore, I wouldn't be caught dead in a t-shirt as they don not flatter me and I don't care to dress like a man which I am not.

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