For this inaugural edition of "What Are You Looking At?," I asked rapidly up and coming local musician Khaela Maricich AKA The Blow to show me something, anything, that she has been looking at lately, that has been fascinating her, or that she finds solace in gazing upon. Like a participant in a magic trick, she was not to tell me what she had in mind, so I was as surprised as anyone when she took me to American Apparel, the fair-labor, no-logo cotton clothing boutique where Radiohead blares from the speakers and the employees seem much cooler and younger than I ever was.
Khaela said that her first encounter with American Apparel was through their prints ads, which feature "hot girls with almost no makeup. Some of them," she says, pointing to an advertisement on the building exterior, "have bruises. They look like people from my generation and culture."
Inside, I felt assaulted by the sniper-like accuracy of AA's generational marketing. From the Vice magazine-y pictures on the wall to the retro mesh jerseys, it was as if American Apparel had spied on our collective childhoods and, a generation later, created the ultimate, politically correct, logo-free retail outlet for us. While I felt violated, Khaela seemed to roll with it and embrace it. "Do you like feeling pegged?" I asked. "Or does it make you uneasy?"
"Sometimes it makes me feel uneasy for sure," she replied. "But lately I'm kind of into the dirtiness of it. There's something about people knowing what you want and pegging itÉ It's like how we were when we were kids--we liked the toys that got sold, then when we got older, it was all 'Consumerism is bad.' But now it's like we know it's bad and finally the styles have caught up to where they can make us want the things they have. Now we can accept that people can market things that are actually okay. My fear is that the store is actually cooler than I am. They're part of a club that I can't quite get in. It's totally aimed right at me, but I still don't know if I'm quite cool enough to be part of it."