Outstanding Mission Statements: Fifth In A Series

American Apparel is a vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of T-shirts and related products. All of our garments are cut and sewn at our 800,000-square-foot facility in downtown Los Angeles.
We are trying to rediscover the essence of classic products like the basic T-shirt, once an icon of Western culture and freedom. Our goal is to make garments that people love to wear without having to rely on cheap labor.
Every aspect of the production of our garments, from the knitting of the fabric to the photography of the product, is done in-house. By consolidating this entire process, we are able to pursue efficiencies that other companies cannot because of their over-reliance on outsourcing.
Our downtown Los Angeles factory, now considered the largest sewn-products facility in the United States, is a design lab where creative ideas, efficient manufacturing techniques, and concepts for designing and selling T-shirts are developed and put to the test. The challenge for companies like American Apparel is to establish new ways of doing business that are efficient and profitable without exploiting workers.
While apparel is a universal necessity that transcends almost all cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, most garments are made in exploitative settings. We hope to break this paradigm.

About David Burn

Co-founder and editor of AdPulp. I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. I worked for seven agencies in five states before launching my own practice in 2009. Today, I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.


  1. The way for American Apparel to “break the paradigm” of low wages and exploited labor is to publish their payroll and benefits along with the green cards of the people that earn it.
    Just a Christmasy thought.

  2. No. They don’t need to prove anything to you, or anyone. This is America. Choose not to buy from them if you’re concerned about the legal status of their workforce.

  3. The legal (and low paid) status of their workforce is one of the things their “changing of the paradigm” of sweatshop labor is supposed to do. According to them. I was just commenting on a way they could do it, rather than just talk about it. Just a thought.