Why Is American Apparel Rolling Out Luxury T-Shirts?

American Apparel has had a pretty rough couple of years, from ongoing, very expensive drama with ousted founder Dov Charney to filing for bankruptcy in October. Could higher-end, higher-priced iterations of its staple item — the humble T-shirt — be a much-needed bright spot for the beleaguered company?

In June, the brand will debut "a premium, beautiful fabric T-shirt," as Cynthia Erland, American Apparel's SVP of marketing, told AdWeek. "This is a big moment for us...but this is about more than a T-shirt campaign. This is the campaign that will set American Apparel back on the map," Erland told the publication of the "Perfect T-shirt" campaign.
Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images.

If you swear by the basics purveyor's tees, don't fret. The newer, pricier shirts won't be fully replacing American Apparel's classic styles. "Our older T-shirts are great, but they were a little bit heavier," Erland said. Tinkering with tried-and-true takes on the staple also reflects the retailer's desire to keep up with the rest of the industry's tweaks on tees. "They're still best-sellers; there's nothing wrong with them, but fashion has changed, trends have changed, fit has changed."

Expect the campaign to be super inclusive, which would be quite a departure from American Apparel's past racy imagery. Though fairly racially diverse, the risque ads have never been too impressive in terms of size representation. "We want to cast girls and guys, influencers and creatives of all ages, shapes, and sizes," Erland said. "This will be an omni-channel global campaign, and the broader message will be that American Apparel is back and for everyone."

The brand is also toning down its salacious ads to some extent, it wants to (finally) expand its sizing in the near future, though no timeframe is set for plus-sized offerings, according to Adweek. "[More inclusive sizing] was one of [CEO] Paula [Schneider]'s first big imperatives. When she came in here it was, 'We've got to expand the sizing and get our sizing to be consistent.' So sizing is at the top of the list," Erland said.

There aren't any specifics yet on just how much more luxe the shirts will be, both in terms of price and fabrication. Frankly, it seems like our closets need more-than-$20 American Apparel tees about as much as they were lacking $78 Hanes ones. But we'll try to suspend our doubts, to some degree, until the shirts debut in three months.

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