When American Apparel used this generation’s most popular social networking tool to advertise an ‘event’, it should have come with a warning.
Over 40,000 fashion-forward folk were cordially invited to the ethical chain’s ‘Rummage Sale’, a sort of market where the company sells off deadstock and excess sizes from previous seasons. It’s been a big hit all over the world, with Toronto, Los Angeles and New York being treated to slogan Ts, versatile basics and shiny headbands at bargain prices.
And now it was the turn of London, a city feted for its style and fashion finesse, to hold this travelling ‘event’. It’s worth noting that when a certain budget retailer opened on Oxford Street three years ago, the middle-market press sniggered at the scores of people ready to do battle over £6 jeans and £2 T-shirts.
In what can only be described as ‘High School Musical-meets-the Hood, beatnik boys and indie girls descended on Brick Lane’s Old Trueman Brewery and rubbed shoulders (and shoved elbows) with a cross-section of London’s under 25s.
It became immediately apparent that American Apparel’s ‘Rummage’ was about to turn into a ‘Scrummage’…
With no queue-barriers or security in sight, the Police were swiftly called in to control the desperate and baying mob. Tensions were at breaking point. And with no explanation as to why the doors were still closed at 10.45am, it took just two, stupid individuals to take it to the next level.
Here’s where London didn’t disappoint: When the Police become involved in innocuous public events, the ‘us vs. them’ mentality kicks in, and it descends into a farcical show of bravado, pointless violence and anti-social behaviour.
Within an hour, the riot squad dispatched disappointed teens, shocked onlookers and bewildered passers-by from the area and the doors to 81 Brick Lane remained firmly shut. The ‘event’ became an event in itself.
Do we really value clothes over our own safety? Has our consumerist culture snuck up behind us and dealt us a blow to our moral and ethical behaviours? Either way, it is worrying.
Whilst the company made an apology on the ‘events’ Facebook page, you can’t help but wonder why this respected retailer didn’t think ahead and plan proper security measures. It only takes one crossed look or someone being in the wrong place at the wrong time for a repeat of the tragic events at last year’s G20 summit. And we all know what happened there.
American Apparel prides itself on its ethical fashion footprint and its attitude towards eradicating slave labour and poor factory conditions, but after today’s event, we should be asking ourselves: Can American Apparel seriously damage our health?
♫ The Smiths – Panic