Can a sloth save “sleazy” retailer American Apparel?


American Apparel has not turned a profit since 2009 and its reputation has been hanging from a thread, but recent recruit Paula Schneider is doing something about the latter, which could help the former.

Schneider, who replaces ousted American Apparel founder and ex-CEO Dov Charney,is taking a new route with the retailer‘s campaign strategy, by replacing the controversially young looking models with a 23-year-old three-fingered Bradypus Sloth named Buttercup.

“Meet Buttercup,” the advert boldly reads above a shot of Buttercup posing seductively. “Buttercup is a 23-year-old three-fingered Bradypus sloth from Costa Rica.

She was brought to the Arroyo family as an orphaned infant by local children and was the catalyst to their founding the Sloth Sanctuary. Now the sanctuary‘s official brand ambassador, she loves entertaining guests and posing for photos. Her favourite pastimes include sunbathing and eating hibiscus blooms.”

Focusing on the ‘edginess‘ of the brand Sc hneider wants American Apparel to take on social issues of the day, including gay rights and anti-bullying.  With the help of its new poster girl Buttercup, the brand has teamed up with artist, Todd Selby to create a limited edition T-shirt featuring Buttercup in aid of Earth Day 2015.

30% of the proceeds raised from the T-shirt sales will go to the Sloth Sanctuary of Costa Rica and the T-shirt itself is made with 100% USDA certified organic and pesticide-free cotton: “It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand.”

Schneider still wants the US retailer to be as provocative as it was under Charney,  just with a little less skin. “It has to be a little sexy,” said Schneider. “We sell lingerie. We sell hosiery. You just make sure we aren‘t crossing the line. It should be about empowering women, empowering people.”

She added “it doesn‘t have to be overtly sexual” and that “there‘s a way to tell our story where it‘s not offensive.”

“No-one knows we‘re the biggest apparel manufacturer in North America” Schneider concludes, highlighting how much of the overall the brand is overshadowed by its past controversial ad campaigns, “that message hasn‘t been told. It‘s taken a back seat.”

Emily Thornhill