Joanna Dryden questions the American brand’s reliability and practicality as producers of quality sportswear.
With the start of every new year and our proclamations of ‘New Year, New Me!’ comes the inevitable dash to the shops to stock up on sportswear. However, it is no longer good enough to just be practically and comfortably dressed for exercise, you now need to look the part too. So where to shop for this workout chic look? Many of us, it seems, turn to American Apparel. This is a brand that prides itself on its ethics- the majority of the clothes are made in a factory in downtown L.A. by immigrant workers who are paid double the minimum wage- and the simplicity of the products is the unique selling point. Yet this is a brand whose fitness section sells thong bodysuits (£23.00) and unitards (£32.00), without a sports bra in sight; is it really workout friendly?
American Apparel may be a go-to for the fashion conscious youth and it is rare that a day at uni passes without spotting at least one girl in a pair of ‘Disco Pants’, but trying to replicate this look for the gym is perhaps, even for the fashion elite, a step too far. We all want to look our best, but exercise is the one aspect of our lives where we should be a tad more practical (you’ll thank your young self when various body parts are still in the right places and you haven’t been struck by the arthritic limp). However lovely the models wearing this ‘fitness wear’ on the website appear, as they contort their bodies into shapes a Yoga bunny would approve of, this is an unattainable look for myself and many of us who live in the real world.
Workouts in the real world end in a sweaty mess, not rosy glowing faces. One glance in one of the many mirrors lining the gym walls and my sensible alter ego reveals herself and praises the exercise Lord that I invested in those shock-impact trainers, sports bra (however unsightly we all know those things are) and clothes crafted from breathable fabric, rather than striving for the American Apparel look. Just imagine this: me, in an Aerobics class, going for the high kicks in a V-neck thong bodysuit (minus the sports bra), cleavage on full display and a slinky pair of leggings: literally the makings of a horror movie.
And let us not disregard the scandalous antics of founder Dov Charney, various controversial and hyper-sexualised advertising campaigns and the ‘are-you-having-a-laugh?’ price tag. I beg each and every one of you to save the Disco Pants and bodysuits for nights out and be practical, just for once! For those who do want something fashionable and practical, there’s always Stella McCartney for Adidas and Liberty trainers for Nike. These products may cost a little bit more, but they are ultimately an investment; specifically designed for the gym, not the disco.