Ryan Alexander-Tanner

THIS IS A REQUIEM for your hoodie. American Apparel has filed for bankruptcy, and while that doesn't mean they're gone gone, the oft-derided, and even more frequently frequented clothing outpost is going to close a bunch of its storefronts. Whatever the future holds for American Apparel, its zeitgeist reign is over. It's sad that it's over, too, in the way that it's sad that time passes. American Apparel was the brick and mortar of our generation. And now that iTunes and Amazon are the definitive retailers, it means less and less to be the "brick and mortar of our generation." (Not that it ever meant anything because I just made it up, but IT WAS THE BRICK AND MORTAR OF OUR GENERATION.)

It was the rare store that meant more culturally than it did as an actual commercial enterprise. American Apparel was the official uniform supplier for people who really, really wanted to do coke and listen to whatever Pitchfork was rubbing up against, and it was the official uniform supplier for the people who wanted to fuck those people.

Fuck was the main thing American Apparel trafficked in, for better or much, much worse. They were fuck peddlers, from former CEO Dov Charney's godawful loins on down. Charney, who founded the company back in 1989 (the Ryan Adams 1989), was dethroned for how into fuck he was. He was a fuck Icarus who flew too close to the sun, which is to say he was fired by the board of directors and ACCUSED of being a fucking creep, sending lurid emails to employees, storing filthy shit on company servers—not to mention misuse of company funds and racism, again all alleged.

Charney and fellow Gogol Bordello-looking, culturally important creep Terry Richardson served as the market correction that dudes who look like they want to talk about the Velvet Underground could be awful and creepy, too. A lesson that women in Portland don't exactly need a refresher on.

Sexuality was both the fall and the mountain that was fallen from, as American Apparel's advertising aesthetic was at times figuratively pornographic, at times literally pornographic, and constantly compelling, even if in the basest of ways. In the old days, they didn't use traditional models, they used girls who looked like girlfriends (and very occasionally, boyfriends). They used amateur exploitation to sell tights, shirts, whatever. Seeing their ads on billboards, on the internet, and in this very paper was truly... well, something.

The company isn't dead. Donald Trump can tell you that bankruptcy doesn't mean irrelevance or even penance. You can walk into an American Apparel tomorrow and buy another hoodie, and maybe you should—because that shit was made in the United States of America. It's weird to feel nostalgia for something that's still around, and that's probably not what this is. This is nostalgia for the idea that there might not be another brick and mortar that represents a generation.

Now you can get your hoodies online.