American Apparel boss attacks Obama crackdown on immigrant workers




American Apparel boss attacks Obama crackdown on immigrant workers

US fashion retailer forced to sack 1,500 at its California HQ  

American Apparel boss Dov Charney. ‘I just cry when I think so many people will be leaving’ Photograph: Gregg Segal/Corbis

 The clothes retailer American Apparel has expressed “deep disappointment” with US immigration policy after an official crackdown on undocumented workers obliged the company to lay off 1,500 employees at its California headquarters, amounting to 15% of its global workforce.

Renowned for its colourful T-shirts and sweaters, American Apparel proudly states in its advertising that its products are made in downtown Los Angeles. But government inspectors in July found that 1,600 of its 5,600 manufacturing staff did not appear to be legally authorised to work in the US and a further 200 had uncertain status.

Infringements include false social security numbers and discrepancies in workers’ employment records. The company, which has been an outspoken advocate for a more liberal immigration policy, is sacking the affected employees this month.

In a farewell letter, American Apparel’s founder, Dov Charney, said he was saddened that so many would be leaving. “Many of you have been with me for so many years, and I just cry when I think that so many people will be leaving,” he said.

Pointing out that his own grandmother was a Jewish immigrant who found work at a Montreal garment factory in the 1930s, Charney said: “I am deeply disappointed that the Obama administration has failed to bring about immigration reform.”

Charney continued: “Ironically, the rallying cry of the Obama campaign was the words of César Chávez, ‘Yes we can’ or ‘Sí se puede’, which inspired so many people, particularly Latinos, in the recent election.”

The White House has made enforcement in the workplace a central part of its strategy to reduce illegal immigration. In April, the homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano, issued guidelines requiring immigration authorities to concentrate resources on employers who “knowingly hire illegal workers”.

American Apparel employs 10,000 people globally and has 260 shops, including eight in Britain.




My day in hot pink leather shorts

My day in hot pink leather shorts

The market editor of Vogue raids her wardrobe for that item she has never dared wear before . . . 

leather shorts Emma Elwick with her leather shorts Photograph: Linda Nylind

I like Roxy Music but I’ve never seen myself reflected in Amanda Lear’s dominatrix leathers on the For Your Pleasure cover. I walk a whippet not a panther and I’m predominantly made of denim. Or am I? A quick wardrobe tally and I find three biker jackets, a teeny miniskirt, black leather walking shorts and some jodhpurs.

There’s one other hide, hiding in my wardrobe. Shocking vintage raspberry leather shorts. I happened upon them in a flea market in Paris. They reminded me of that Chloë-in-Chloé moment . . . style chancer Sevigny in the tomato bloomers from Hannah MacGibbon’s debut collection – all gazelle gams and getting away with it. After a moment of attempted self-asphyxiation (with nowhere to disrobe, I applied the “circumference of one’s neck is half that of one’s waist” theory), I parted with my €30. Call it a combination of the right circumstances and the right company. “Wear them immediately,” encouraged Matthew Stone, artist, and Gareth Pugh: “They are the perfect drummer-boy lederhosen“. I packed them up and within darkest environs of the closet they stayed.

Until now . . . it’s time for me to wear them in earnest. I’d forgotten how high-waisted and 80s they were. Grace Jones via Von Trapp? I dressed down the panto factor with a simple navy American Apparel T-shirt, a mannish grey cardigan and spindly Alaïa sandals. If I’m set to make this statement, a demure covering of the arm and an elongating heel are a must.

After a quick walk of the dog (perplexing the builders on my street), I arrive at work. Leather shorts are an acceptable dress code at this particular office, but even here they are not the most practical work-wear option. Sitting in the editor’s office for a meeting, I immediately regret taking the window seat. Leather does get rather warm, so perhaps I shall put the shorts away until November and bring them back out with dotty tights and cheeky cuissardes.

The heat notwithstanding, leather is a confident look for uncertain times. It comes with a high cost-per-wear ratio but remains cool and empowering – just maybe not in hot pink.

How to dress for an hour on the plinth

Hadley Freeman can ease your fashion pain 

Pigeon in london The pigeon look: a hot new trend coming to a plinth near you soon? Photograph: Jon Cartwright/Getty Images/Flickr RM

What should I wear on the plinth? I’ll be doing the crossword and having a cup of tea, and will certainly not be wearing a cute animal costume. But colour? And accessories? It’s a worry.

Ann, Glasgow

Ann, I’m not going to lie to you. Some questions with a practical context bring joy to my heart – what to wear on University Challenge, say – because I highly approve of the context itself. This, however, does not. I am dismayed by this Trafalgar Square plinth malarkey. Have we now fallen so low in terms of artistic skills that we can’t even shove a wheel up there? Even just an uncarved hunk of stone? No, apparently all we can offer up is a selection of, um, people. I am not denigrating you, Ann, I am merely denigrating the idea. And to those of you saying, “Why don’t you come up with an idea, you smartarse?” How about this? I’ll come up with three:

1. A big statue of a pigeon – this is my favourite. A giant stone pigeon. Awesomeness to the power of a million.

2. A statue of a man looking up – get it? Just as you’re looking up at the statue, the statue is looking up at the sky. That postmodern enough for ya, Gormley?

3. A pigeon looking up – sorry, I really can’t get past the pigeon idea.

But fine, I appreciate that nothing I say here is going to make the slightest difference and, more importantly, this is not what you came here for today. You’re going on the plinth and I’m just going to have to deal.

So I like your idea, just playing it cool. But I do think you need to splash on some red (or is the verb now “pop”?), just so your friends can see you from down below. A hat, perhaps, would not go amiss, both for sun protection and for attention grabbing. Although that could be a nightmare when the wind blows.

OK, Ann, look, I’m going to level with you here. I’m trying to be professional and do what you ask me but I just cannot. I understand your hesitation about wearing a “cute animal costume” but have I mentioned my pigeon idea to you? I have? Well, I think you should take it to its logical, compromising conclusion. I mean, a pigeon isn’t an animal. It’s not even cute. And you dressed as a pigeon would just look a-m-a-z-i-n-g on the plinth.

Fashion is all about context, with your outfit working with or playing against your personality and the environment you’re in. And now with everyone becoming so steadfastly interested in using materials that work with the environment, this feels even more important. We all know that Trafalgar Square belongs to the pigeons. Thus, it seems only right to reference them in your outfit, no? And the fact that this is a very un-you thing to do emphasises the specialness of your plinth day. Go Pigeon!

I’ve spotted half a dozen grown men walking round with their trouser legs rolled up, a la George Michael on Top of the Pops in the days of Club Tropicana. Isn’t it taking the 80s revival a step too far?

Poppy, Islington, London

Oh Poppy, Poppy, Poppy. Perhaps you are shielded from the usual manoeuvres of popular fashion up in Islington so I shall explain. You are saying, in a very decorous way, that you have noticed straight men dressing in a decidedly camp way and you are attempting to explain this to yourself as being part of the “80s revival”. One has nothing to do with t’other. The fact of the matter is, where the gay gentlemen go, style-wise, the straights shall follow – but about 20 years later. I am not quite sure why this is. Perhaps the straights are just slower learners. Perhaps they think 20 years is the time period it will take for the style to lose its camp associations (bless their innocence). If you are finding all this hard to compute, think of David Beckham as their beagle down the mine of camp style, plumbing the depths and encountering all manner of treasure – leather waistcoats here, jeans burdened with metallic chains there – way sooner than the lesser mortals.

And so the Wham! look now comes to the men of Islington, about, I’d say, four years after it came to straight men everywhere else (seriously, have you never seen a photo of Peter Andre?). Don’t fight it Poppy, don’t even question it – just let the poor loves have their fun. They have so little else in their lives.

Post your questions to Hadley Freeman, Ask Hadley,The Guardian, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9GU. Email

Why leather is back in style

It’s big on the catwalks already. But why? And how do you wear it?

Leather outfits

Hot leather outfits Photograph:

Fashion, like school, starts a new term in September. This year the trend with early form is leather, which has featured heavily in the early autumn editions of Vogue (hence Pixie Geldof in a shoot headlined “Leather Rebel”) as well as on the red carpet.

Chloë Sevigny, always a trailblazer for a difficult trend, sported a black leather, dungaree jumpsuit at a fashion bash in New York back in July. A month later, the fabric went A-list when Angelina Jolie chose a strapless, black leather shift for an Inglourious Basterds premiere (she has previous leather experience on the red carpet, having worn a floor-skimming gown for the premiere of Mr & Mrs Smith in 2005). More amenably for ordinary folk, a week later Agyness Deyn (right) teamed a leather pencil skirt with a Rocky Horror Picture Show T-shirt tucked neatly into her waistband. That felt like less of a flashy statement. In this latest reincarnation leather does seem less harsh. Instead it’s grown-up and glossy, with a hint of a biker reference and that brooding insouciance at which French Vogue so excels. Witness the leatherised power dressing that opened the Yves Saint Laurent show for autumn.

As comebacks go, it’s well timed. Harriet Quick, fashion features director of Vogue, argues that as a fabric leather suggests “investment” (and, indeed, even on the high street, it is not cheap). Ever since the recession, fashion labels have realised the attractiveness of items that have wardrobe longevity. Of course, the “It” bag, which dominated for the best part of this decade, had already trained the fashion-conscious to see leather goods as investment purchases, and thereby to spend more on them. The big fashion houses must be hoping it’s a practice that carries over to leather clothing.

“What’s appealing is the numerous ways leather is in fashion,” says Quick. “From mini-skirted trophy dresses at Balmain, to jackets, and even washed leather dungarees at YSL.” The high-street, from Marks & Spencer (whose leather shift was an early hit this time last year) to Kate Moss at Topshop (a pencil skirt and a floor-length mac).

But how should you wear leather? Rebecca Lowthorpe, fashion features director at Elle, thinks she has found a way to mix all the Gallic leather sexiness you could dream of, in a far more practical way. She says this season it’s all about the biker jacket but worn like a louche French actress. “Think breton T-shirt, cropped jeans, flats, big shades and a pout”

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