For a global retailer often in hot water (controversial ad campaigns, sleazy leadership, and slumping sales), American Apparel is trying to reconnect with consumers by taking a social stand.
The company announced its “Make America Gay Again” campaign, a partnership with the Human Rights Campaign and The Ally Coalition to support LGBTQ equality. The effort includes limited edition t-shirts and tank tops bearing the slogan, a cheeky play on Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again.”
American Apparel has long been a proponent of gay rights, launching its popular “Legalize Gay” t-shirt in 2008. The apparel will be available on both the American Apparel and Human Rights Campaign website.
American Apparel calls the line “a collection of styles that stand for acceptance — no matter who you are, where you’re from or who you love.” Thirty percent of sales will support the Equality Act and efforts to end discrimination, according to a press release from American Apparel. The company will also feature a video series, three of which have already been posted, fostering discussion over the meaning of gay rights.
Whether the bold social stand will help the struggling brand across its 202 stores in 19 countries is another question entirely. Last summer the company announced plans to cut spending by $30 million over the course of 18 months by closing low performing stores. In January the company exited bankruptcy proceedings and officially ended the reign of its founder Dov Charney — the subject of multiple sexual misconduct complaints — but with a commitment to U.S. manufacturing.
“A message of inclusivity is a smart move for American Apparel, especially when their past campaigns were controversial and polarizing by design,” said Julie Noiman, general manager at Tigerspike. “Partnering with Human Rights Coalition and The Ally Coalition raises awareness for LGBTQ equality, and that helps connect American Apparel to their target demographics and be more culturally relevant.”
The campaign has received support from notable figures, including The Ally Coalition founders, Jack and Rachel Antonoff. The well-known sibling pair — a member of the band fun. and fashion designer, respectively — will host an upcoming event in New York City later this month for the cause. Other events are slated for Los Angeles, where American Apparel is based.
Shortly after the announcement, President Barack Obama tweeted a link to the Organizing For America “Pride Collection” today, which includes a similar collection of t-shirts with phrases like “Pride & Joy” and “Love is Love.” The Pride Collection first launched in 2014.
“Today, LGBTQ people remain at risk of being fired, evicted or denied services in a majority of states simply because of who they are,” Olivia Alair Dalton, svp of communications and marketing at the Human Rights Coalition, said in the press release. “That’s why we are fighting to pass the Equality Act — legislation that will protect LGBTQ people under our federal civil rights laws.”