It's not uncommon to see an American Apparel label inside mainstream merchandise; who doesn't have an old concert tee or a shirt from a sorority event lying around bearing the AA logo? For that reason, many might not raise an eyebrow at Donald Trump's decision to produce his campaign merchandise through the brand, as WWD discovered — but perhaps they should.
Presumably, Trump's camp went with American Apparel for the obvious "Made in America" angle, which would side step the embarrassment of "Made in China" goods. (Quick refresh: As we mentioned when his daughter Ivanka experienced a recall of goods made in China in April of this year, Trump told the editorial board of New York Times that he would support a 45% tax on Chinese exports to the U.S. Later, he claimed to have been misquoted during a Republican presidential debate.)
Likely, the campaign thought it was a sure bet. The only problem: American Apparel was forced to fire over 1,800 immigrant workers back in 2009 after they were unable to prove they had the legal right to work in the U.S. The raid and subsequent dismissal was part of the Obama administration's effort to reduce illegal immigration. Since then, the company has become active in immigration reform in addition to working with the Human Rights Campaign Foundation and California Community Foundation. In April, the brand laid off hundreds of workers and was said to be considering outsourcing some manufacturing (though insisted they would remain "Made in America").
Trump not only advocates for a wall between the American and Mexican borders, but in June 2016 he said this about illegal immigrants: "They're bringing drugs, they're bringing crime, they're rapists." (Not to mention American Apparel's work with the LGBTQ community; Trump is against gay marriage and supports an amendment to the Civil Rights act allowing discrimination based on sexual orientation.)
At the end of the day, it likely won't matter to Trump: As WWD points out, Trump's own line of suits and ties is reportedly made in China and Mexico.
Update 7/20/2016: A spokesperson for American Apparel sent Fashionista the following statement:
"American Apparel is a company that stands for inclusiveness, as is evidenced by our campaigns tackling issues such as immigration reform, discrimination, marriage and gender equality.
Because we believe in free trade, we sell our American-made T-shirts to thousands of screen printers across the country, allowing them to sell to any customers they choose.
Since we cannot control our wholesalers’ business practices, we want to emphasize that our core values do not always align with the messages printed on the end consumer’s product."