Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The New York Times Magazine this weekend featured a profile of Dov Charney, a couple years after the rest of the world had one (oh yeah, and after their own Style section wrote about him and American Apparel in November 2004, and Alex Kuczynski wrote about him in her "Critical Shopper" column last June). It presents him as a curiosity, when his weirdness has already been kind of beaten to death in the media. The difference is that this profile was largely flattering.

It's practically impossible to make the guy seem uncontroversial, but the writer of the article seemed more impressed than disturbed, interested in the ways Charney pushes boundaries and the positive implications of his obsession with style and youthfulness. I can see how Dov Charney can be seductive, both as a person and as a symbol, and how American Apparel is in many ways a great and innovative company. I want to believe that there can be socially responsible, "youth-driven" companies that treat their workers well and don't fuck up the environment and make stuff I want to buy. I even want to believe that someone like Dov Charney could be the one to do it. But I don't really think he is.

Charney's taste is fairly eclectic, but there are certain things at which he draws a hard line. Makeup is one. Plucked and trimmed eyebrows are another. To my surprise, short hair is a third. Looking over some fetching snapshots of a pixieish U.C. Santa Cruz student, "half-Japanese, half-white," showing herself off in a polka-dot bikini and biting into a strawberry, Charney nixed it on account of her Audrey Hepburn haircut. "You never see a girl we shot with short hair," he said. "That's unnatural."

Whereas your handlebar mustache, douche bag, just "naturally" grew on your stupid face like that?

Today I went out to get lunch (for a change), and stumbled on a brand new coffee shop on Mercer Street. It's called "think coffee," so it already gets points for a good name and a cute logo. It's also 100% Fair Trade (which, while it's not Rainforest Alliance Certified, is maybe the next best thing), and they're donating 25% of their profits to neighborhood charities. Which is A LOT. On top of that, the coffee is delicious and the place itself is huge - a serious plus since it's impossible to find a seat in a cafe around here. AND, it's open till midnight, unlike most of the places close to my office. So I think I have a new favorite place.

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