American Apparel pulls super-disturbing employee T-shirt
Black Friday is rapidly approaching, which means companies are taking it upon themselves to stand out the best they can among a sea of others doing the same thing. It’s a 24-hour rush to build that beautiful bottom line, and many retailers will do whatever they can to be seen as THE place to be when their doors open at an ungodly hour – while most are still digesting our turkey.
This year, American Apparel leapt into the fray by offering a T-shirt to their employees who will be working on Black Friday that read, “Ask Me to Take It All Off,” according to an anonymous employee of the retail establishment.
Of the company’s optional request to have its employees wear the shirt on Black Friday to promote its 50%-off deals, the employee told Jezebel that “I find this slogan really disgusting and in poor taste. American Apparel is giving my consent to our customers to harass me, if I wear that shirt.”
As a result of the employee speaking out, American Apparel opted to pull the shirt. A spokesperson for the company issued the following statement to Jezebel about the decision.
“This slogan on these tee shirts—which were distributed to both male and female employees as optional—was originally intended to be a play on words to engage customers during our Black Friday Sale, which features an additional 50 percent off items that are already marked down 50 percent. We understand that this offended an individual employee who spoke up about his / her concerns. American Apparel is a company that values free speech, and most importantly, creating an environment where employees feel valued, protected, and safe. As such, we have decided to discontinue this slogan and will seek other ways to stay creative and push the envelope, which is part of our brand DNA.”
Though the shirts were optional, we’re still scratching our heads to determine why they were offered and encouraged in the first place – both in general, as an invitation for harassment is never OK even in a “joking” context.
This isn’t the first time American Apparel has been the subject of controversy. We wouldn’t say this newest snafu is tame in comparison to past transgressions, but between crotch shots in back-to-school ads, founder/ex-CEO and known recipient of sexual-harassment allegations Dov Charney, and the company’s recent bankruptcy filing, it’s hard to keep up with American Apparel’s recent past and even harder to determine what this all means for its future.
So while we applaud American Apparel’s decision to discontinue the shirts, we sincerely hope they’ll learn from this instance and be able to balance their envelope-pushing puns with more appropriate marketing tactics in the future. And we’re giving all the props to the employee who spoke up about the dangers of wearing a shirt like this in a society where harassment is pushed aside as people not being able to take a joke instead of taken as it should be: 100% seriously.
(Image via Twitter/Jezebel)