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Concept Portfolio

American Apparel


Amy Gottenbos Irene van der Heijden International Fashion & Branding

Table of Contents 02.

Table of contents

03. 04. 06. 07. 07.

American Apparel Target Group Identity Brand Issue Goal of the experience

08. 09. 10. 12. 13. 14.

Brand Experience Overall Concept American Apparel Atelier The Atelier Promotion Presentation


American Apparel The devil may wear Prada, the devilish wear what ever they want.


Target Group American Apparel’s shoppers are those who know how to work their own style. They are the ones that are able to create something out of anything and make it theirs. Also, they are the ones that are conscious; conscious about themselves and the world around them and realize it can fall into decay. They feel responsible and dare to take responsibility.


Identity Vision

In our opinion, the human being hasn’t been careful enough with the globe we live on. American Apparel wants you to grasp that and start to be responsible. We believe it is important to have sincere motives, to be distinctive, honest and to speak up your mind. Tell your opinion, show your style and color your world. We think everyone should be able to build up their own style with American Apparel as the bedrock.


Our price might be high, but so are our standards and morals. We feel responsible for the world around us. We have developed a sustainable clothing line and are aiming to provide sustainable products only. We are the one that offers you your essentials in fashion in unusual but familiar colors. Our basics are flexible and therefore adjustable to everyone’s style. Our promotion is controversial as we dare to speak up. We are something modern, something urgent.

Core Values • • •

Sincere Honest Distinctive


Brand Issue

American Apparel is the brand that provides its shoppers the basics as a fundamental part of their wardrobe, while keeping sincere motives in mind. This is a brand with a message. AA is opening a lot of stores within Europe; they need to make sure their brand awareness is growing in the same rapid tempo. Most people do know the brand, but do not shop there a lot, and often do not know how responsible and morally sincere the brand is.

Goal of the Experience

Our price might be high, but so are our standards and morals. We feel responsible for the world around us. We have developed a sustainable clothing line and are aiming to provide sustainable products only. We are the one that offers you your essentials in fashion in unusual but familiar colors. Our basics are flexible and therefore adjustable to everyone’s style. Our promotion is controversial as we dare to speak up. We are something modern, something urgent.


Brand experience The American Apparel Atelier

Overall Concept

We all know about the lucky garment. The shirt that you were wearing when your best ideas popped up. The jeans you had the luckiest first dates in. Or the warm scarf that helped you trough the winters. Someday though, those garments to will meet their finishing points. Luckily American Apparel has found a way for our consumer to be creative and to keep -wearing- their lucky garment. The American Apparel Atelier; the place to give old garments a new life. Here customers can rebuild their lucky shirt into a -new - lucky bag. Or turn their lucky ripped jeans into a trendy I-pod cover. It will kill three birds with one stone, as ‘luck’ will continue, as well as the lifecycle of the product, thus sustainability. Plus here is a new way to be original and add their own style to their wardrobes.


The American Apparel Atelier

Imagine a big room where everyone can sit at two large tables and work alongside. Where customers who are able to and wanting to create a new garment themselves can sit and start to work. And where American Apparel professional seamstresses can work in order of clients, who aren’t as handy themselves, but do have ideas. Those American Apparel Professionals are able to knock about and help whenever and wherever they’re needed. And the clients have the opportunity to take a look around, see how the Professionals work, to hit upon ideas, and have to chance to watch and learn. The sound of sewing machines, a creative vibe, meters and meters of American Apparel Fabrics in every color; the real feel of an atelier.


The Atelier

Extra Fabrics

Of course you can’t always make a complete new product out of only one single garment; therefore the client always gets an extra two meters of American Apparel Fabric. It will add extra opportunities to be creative. All the seasonal colors of American Apparel are available, what will make sure the new garment is a real American Apparel product. American Apparel is conscious about the world around them just like the target group, therefore the available fabrics are either recycled American Apparel cotton. At this point the brand already recycles cotton out of fabric scrapes which is at the moment only used for the Baby Rib Thong collection. But the goal is to also make it available in the Atelier to help giving Lucky Garments a new life. Offered colors will be completed with organic American Apparel Cotton, which is the same as used for the Sustainable Line.


Examples, ideas and patterns will be shown in the Atelier. If the consumer is not able to create a new product out of their garment themselves, they can use those to get ideas, along with the help of the Professional of course. The consumer can also use this as an outline and make little changes to their preferences. Price The entrance to the studio will be € 7,50 and two meters of fabric will be included. If the consumer comes in with an American Apparel ‘Lucky Shirt’ the entrance and fabric is free.


The experience will have a capacity for twenty people at the time. There will be three or four professionals present.

Opening hours

Since most people have the weekends off the atelier will be opened during the weekend to compensate this, the Atelier will be closed on Mondays. One day per week the Atelier is opened after working and college hours to give the consumer the opportunity to visit the atelier during working days. Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat Sun

closed 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM 10:00 PM till 6.00 PM

7:00 PM till 9: PM


The AA Atelier is a creative experience, and will be located in an artistic and thus creative neighborhood: The American Apparel Atelier will obtain an even more inspirational atmosphere around the experience. By locating it in such a neighborhood it will reach the creative target group since they are already there. And for the people who are a little less creative, it has a complete ‘creative experience’ since they have to go through a creative neighborhood to get to the Atelier. Options are ‘west’ in Amsterdam, ‘Witte de With’ in Rotterdam en “Mitte” in Berlin


Promotion Campaign

To create brand awareness and awareness for the AA atelier there will be an advertising campaign. This will rouses curiosity, it will generate traffic to the website and last but not least it will create a buzz. This buzz creates brand awareness and awareness for the experience on the short term

Sew kit

Clients will receive a gift. This is just an exciting little extra. A Sew Kit that can be used in the atelier, to deform garments, but also to take home afterwards. The experience will continue at home, as they now have tools to actually do so. Within stores, the sew kit will be giving as gift with a purchase from €25,- or more. This will only be the first half year to promote the Atelier. The sew kit comes with a free ticket to the Atelier. There will be a little booklet added with ideas and a route to the atelier.

The perfect place to promote the atelier will be a website. The consumers can inspire, teach and show each other their creativity through the website. The professional within the atelier will ask permission for taking a picture of the ‘lucky shirt’ and afterwards of the ‘new garment’. These before and after pictures will be placed on the website with a possibility for the consumer to react on some else’s work, but also to teach and inspire each other. Furthermore, from the normal American apparel website there will be a clear link to the site of the atelier.



Reasoning Report

American Apparel


Amy Gottenbos Irene van der Heijden International Fashion & Branding

Table of Contents 02. 03.

Table of contents Introduction


American Apparel


American Apparel Step 1: The Company American Apparel Step 2: Mindmapping American Apparel Step 3: The Film

06. 07.


08. 09. 11.

Brand Experience Conversational Capital The Experience Realm

12. 13.

Conclusion References


After reading this report it will become clear how decisions are made and how the new brand experience is created for American Apparel. This is being done according different analysis with the goal of the experience in mind. First we analyzed the brand itself. Afterwards, we did an in-depth research on the following topics: ‘Why do people need an experience?’ and ‘What is a brand experience?’. Then we took a dive into the book ‘Conversational Capital’. This book gives a clear picture on the steps a brand should take while creating a quality consumer experience. And the last but not least; an analysis according the experience realm of Pine and Gilmore is done. The conclusion will state why the experience will be a quality one and what the added value is for the consumers of American Apparel.


American Apparel

The research and working method is done in different steps. The first step was finding as much information about American Apparel as possible. Than creating a good summery, containing core-words that represent American Apparel. The second was creating mind maps about promotion, differentiation and products; around these subjects the important information of the summery was placed. The last step we took was finding visuals and fitting slogans for AA to inspire. Of the visuals and slogan an inspiring movie is created.


American Apparel

step one; the company

Research tells us that American Apparel is always tries to do things differently. The fact that they are sweatshop free is because they want to be differently, and not to criticize other business models. The production system of AA is under one roof in LA.

The collection

AA has collections for women, men, kids and babies. They are offering basics: T-shirts, leggings, jumpers, skirts etc. all in distinctive colors or patterns. They sell accessories like bags, scarf’s, panty’s, socks, boxer shorts etc.

Sustainable edition

According to American Apparel “The Sustainable Edition” is part of our mission to make every aspect of our process a positive one, from growing cotton to selling clothes. Their long term goal is to gradually integrate principally organic cotton into our main production line so that every American Apparel garment will be a certain percentage principally organic fiber. AA is actively seeking innovative ways to reduce the negative impacts of cotton cultivation.


The creative’s of American Apparel are selected by their characteristics, their sense of culture and fashion, not their resume. The company is focusing on personal style and out forward appearance in its hiring practices for retail. AA likes to know their workers’ faces rather than blind outsourcing.


The stores are individually instead of homogeneously. The company tends to reject midtown, high rent locations and generally avoids in mall stores. The stores are often hubs for urban renewal since the company looks for low rent but high traffic locations. When scouting for locations it considers urban areas that can be revitalized. American Apparel opened a retail location for vintage clothing called California Select in Echo Park, a district of Los Angeles. They sell vintage clothing through e-bay as well.


The company is known for its provocative and controversial advertising campaigns. This is the influence of the CEO Dov Charney. There is a lot of discussion on the internet about the ads of American apparel, people see them as soft porn.

From the LA headquarters AA promotes a creative conversation with the international consumer. At American Apparel” Dov Charney explains, “People area can mix our basics into their wardrobe as they like, in vintage or with luxury or with something you pick up at monoprix. One person could cut their shirt with a pair of scissors. The colors of the fabric are distinctive for AA, There are even socks in strange but familiar colors. Charney”sMy choice is about whim and seeing a color on a street and thinking it is perfect.”

Environmental policies

American Apparel desires to be a capitalist success at the same time that it is a social and environmental success. The company promotes environmentally friendly practices. AA maintains a bicycle lending program for its employees and according to people for the Ethical Treatment of Animals it is a vegan-friendly clothing company. The company planned to increase the use of organic cotton. Within the next four years from over 20% to 80% Furthermore, AA has installed a 146 kilowatt solar electric system on its roof, designed to reduce power costs by at least 20%. These panels power at least 30% of the factory. AA recycles over a million pounds of fabric scrapes annually and manufacture garments such as our Baby Rib Thong from pre-consumer scrap fabric. “By looking at each phase of garment production, AA is, step by step, devising and implementing ways to reduce its ecological impact.

AA = • • • • • • • • • • • •

Sustainable Environmental friendly About quality Different Taking care of personnel “Off-Centre” Focusing on a personnel style and outward appearance Less logo The bedrock of personal styles Something urgent, something modern High prices, high standards Sincere


American Apparel

step two: mindmapping

new business approach

open sexuality

sex as a driving forse

mass vs. indiv. dialogue

sincere motives

doing it differently

Price vs. quality

cultural and honesty


use of colours


sustainable sense of humour


amature Photography controversial


uncomplicated fashion

daring practical




something modern, something urgent flexible fashion


environmentally friendly strange but familiar

mixed wardrobe with whaterver fits all personal style & outward appearance dare to adjust high price & high standards


American Apparel

step three: movie


Brand Experience Why do people need a brand experience?

Today it is not only about the product, but about the brand and its experience. Consumers are able to choose from a dozens of products and all these products are of an acceptable quality. Besides, consumers are educated, mainly through internet, about the different products and brands. The brand does not have to tell the consumer that they are a premium brand: brands have to distinguish themselves by means of brand experience. Furthermore, people are trying to discover who they are and what life will bring. Consumers are looking for brands which they can identify with and show the world who they are or who they want to be. A good brand experience will contribute to the fact that people are able to communicate who they are and what they stand for, to the world around them. Plus, nowadays almost everyone within the western culture is in the highest level of the pyramid of Maslow, which means that we are developing ourselves and that we are looking for happiness. Consumers are searching for stimuli: the stimulation of all senses what gives a satisfying feeling to consumers. People are used to receive a lot of stimuli, as we all live close to each other. And the media is sending us a lot of stimuli by commercials, visuals etc. Because of globalization people are exposed to all sorts of news including unpleasant, shocking and depressing news. This has a negative consequence on people’s emotions. As a result, people are looking for positive stimuli to compensate the negative emotions. Brands are able to provide these stimuli to consumers, by having a brand experience.

What is brand experience?

A brand experience is the way brands are communicating and the way consumers perceive a brand. What does a brand do for the consumer? As already mentioned, consumers are looking for positive stimuli and a way to explore who they are and show this to the world. A brand experience is an experience that covers all these needs. It is important for a brand to connect with his consumer and try to create a relationship.

According this analysis; a good brand experience consists of the following elements: • It arouses emotions of consumers, what makes sure consumers feel a connection with the brand. • It gives the consumer the possibility to be creative and have to experience that they learn something, which makes sure the consumer has the feeling that they develop themselves. • It creates an actual experience. Something where consumers can be physically part of, and provides the consumer with positive stimuli, which makes sure they feel pleased. • It creates social experiences, what also provides positive stimulus and a relationship with the brand It is important that a brand is consistent in everything they communicate, if not, the experience is not convincing and the consumer will not feel any connection with the brand. The consumer is looking for honesty.

Applying the elements on the new experience: American Apparel Atelier

It arouses emotions of the consumer: the experience is creating an emotional band with the consumer because they let them feel they are sending the same message with the same morals and at the same time they are creative and are able to give their style another fingerprint of themselves. Gives possibility to be creative: the consumer is able to create something new out of something old, which is a creative process from the beginning: getting an idea of what the new product will be, finding the right color, and of course creating this new garment, by cutting, sewing etc. Actual experience: the experience will be a space where the consumers have the stimuli of an atelier, which the target group will find positive since they are creative or feel that they are creative. It is a physically experience. Social experience: Consumers are sitting at one large table, there is a good change they will socialize with each other. Besides, the consumers probably need to communicate as they might need the scissors, which lays at the middle of the table.


Conversational Capital Authors: Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski and Eric Alper Company: Sid Lee

Conversational Capital

Applied to AA


Myth of American Apparel

This book describes how marketers can create a quality ‘consumer experience’. According to the authors “word-of-mouth has become the communication lever for product manufacturers and marketers”. The book deconstructs the components of conversations related to consumer experiences. An important new marketing tool is of course creating a conversation with the target group; what will result in a relationship, thus loyalty of the consumer. The authors created the Conversational Capital into eight categories which they call engines; these engines explain us how to create a quality consumer experience and ‘stuff that people love to talk about’. Conversational capital goes beyond traditional marketing or a media mix; if brands have all these engines they are ensured of a product or services that consumers find truly significant. It works on the long term since every part of the brand is thought over: it is not just another advertising campaign. Conversational capital creates the brand and its behavior from the insight out. The new experience for AA is analyzed according the eight engines and their sub engines, therefore, it will be an experience with a long-term effect. Furthermore, in contrast to some other experiences it not a gorilla experience. It gives consumers the possibility to stay sustainable, to create a new garment, to be creative and to have a social experience every time they want.

Myths are stories that tell us who we are. Like nations and cultures, families have founding myths. Individuals have personal myths. How we act and relate to others is informed by these founding personal myths. Integrating myth into experiences gives it existential weight by grounding it in the identity formation process. Myths might be the most critical of Conversational Capital because it embodies a brand story. Essential-stories set brands apart because they are so important in the identityforming process. We are the sum of our stories and we look to myth to provide them. If your brand is powered by myth, it might be all you need.

The myth of AA is that they are distinctive: they have their personal style in clothing and use of colors. AA has sincere motives: they try to be sustainable for 100% and do as much as possible to be environmental friendly, furthermore AA speaks up their mind:


Rituals of American Apparel

Rituals are behaviors or rites we engage in, to mark certain activities as exalted. When ritual behavior becomes associated with a consumer experience, it is marked out as more resonant. We use rituals to make events and relationships as significant and, at times sacred. Rituals are important to identify formation for both individuals and groups. Identity formation is bedrock of storytelling: who am I, where am I going, who is like me or not like me? Why am I here? Rituals work because most of the time they are comforting, when it becomes part of an experience it makes them more memorable and worthy of conversation. They are user-generated, marketers put elements in place to allow the process to happen and then build on it

AA will change the fact that people have their lucky shirts hanging in their clothed. AA will create a ritual where consumers are able to create something new -and wearable again-, out of this lucky shirt. (or any other garment)


American Apparel’s Initiation

Significantly these initiation rituals always involve some discomfort if not outright pain. It is a subset of ritual. When consumers feel they have worked a little harder to acquire special knowledge of or access to a consumer experience, they feel set apart. Initiation is about making an experience more challenging and therefore more meaningful.

The experience will be challenging as consumers have to go to the AA atelier, think about another purpose for their ‘lucky shirt’ and at last they will create this lucky shirt.

EPO – exclusive product offering-

American Apparel’s EPO

EPO occurs when a consumer experience offers a notable degree of individualization. When you feel something has been designed just for you, or in a distinctly personal way, you can claim an experience as your own, it becomes more significant. EPO remind us that we are individual, often EPO is divine by customization. The shorthand is this: the more an experience belongs to me and me alone the more powerful it will be. And the more inclined I will be to talk about it. It’s important that every individual is experiencing something different.

Every consumer will experience the Atelier differently. At first; everyone is creating another product. Secondly, some consumers will have more troubles with sewing, stitching etc. than others. And last, every consumer will meet other people in the studio what will create different conversations.



It’s what happens when brand make an experience feel special by going much further than they have to in terms of consumer satisfaction. Over-delivery occurs when consumer experiences include features that anticipate needs and desires consumers haven’t even thought they would want but end up loving. In the end, it can be understood as an attitude: the desire to be the best and keep improving. Just for the sake of it.

AA is over delivering in basics in a large range of colors. This experience might over-deliver in the possibilities of ideas for new products.

The eight engines are explained in the following table, next to the explanation the engines are applied to the new experience of American Apparel.

By creating this experience AA will carefully watch how the myth will evolve. AA will tap into this ‘story’ behind the brand and expand the myth from there.


Conversational Capital Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO)

Relevant Sensory Oddity (RSO)

RSO stands for relevant sensory oddity. It can be observed when a consumer experience surprises and delights a full range of sense. It recognizes that human beings see, though, hear, taste, and feel and communicates with them on that level. However, doing so in a manner that is relevant and resonates with the consumer experience in a meaningful way, is key.

The senses are already stimulated when entering an AA store since there is an overkill of colors.



Icons are signs and symbols that are rich in evocative power and associations. Almost anything can make on the shorthand power of an icon places, buildings, and people. Loos labels, and more. The key is that these icons have to evoke a compelling brand story.

American Apparel Atelier is getting a new logo which will be the new icon for the brand- and experience.



Tribalism should be allowed to happen - it can’t be manufactured. Tribes form when people relate to one another, and consumer tribes form when a brand becomes part of that interaction. In essence, Conversational Capital occurs when brand stories become part of the identity formation and affirmation process. Determining which tribe you belong to is a bedrock component of that process. Tribalism takes place when consumer experiences draw the like-minded together in a quest for mutual discovery.

American Apparel has different people who identify with the store. This experience will allow the tribe to form, most likely in the direction of a creative tribe



Endorsement is not a matter of well-known people speaking for your consumer experience. Rather, it is a matter of consumers advocating on your behalf in a free and unsolicited manner. This is the most powerful form of marketing there is. However, endorsement comes with a built in caveat. If you are endorsed. You need to live up to consumer support. If they recommend you to someone who is disappointed, they look bad, too.

Endorsement The new AA atelier can be experienced in different ways, therefore there is a great change people will find the experience meaningful, we influence the peer group and make them enthusiastic to ensure they will talk about AA.



Conversation Capital demands continuity. Because it is about creating consistent brand stories, it works best when there is no disconnect between how a product is designed. Market, and perceived. The best brands are the result of a united, cohesive strategy, and they walk the talk.

Conversation Capital demands continuity. Because it is about creating consistent brand stories, it works best when there is no disconnect between how a product is designed. Market, and perceived. The best brands are the result of a united, cohesive strategy, and they walk the talk.

At the AA Atelier the senses are stimulated by the sound, touch, and feel of a real atelier: sound of sowing machine, smell of paint, etc.


The Experience realm The new brand experience of AA is analyzed according the experience realm of Pine & Gilmore.

‘It is not about entertaining customers it’s about engaging them. An experience may engage guests on any number of dimensions. Consider two of the most important, as depicted in the axes of figure below. The first (on the horizontal axis) corresponds to the level of guests’ participation. At the one end of the spectrum passive participation, where customers do not directly affect or influence the performance. Such participants include symphony goers, who experience the event as pure observers or listeners. At the one end of the spectrum lies active participation, in which customers personally affect the performance or event that yields the experience.’ (The Experience Economy, 1999) Entertainment: the website The website will be entertainment: on the website the consumer is able to look at the realized work of others and get inspired. This is a passive event. Aesthetic: the atelier. The atelier and its design are set, the consumer has to absorb this and feel the atmosphere of a real atelier. Educational: creating something new out something old. Learning how to be creative, come up with ideas. Learning how to sew, stitch, etc. Escapist: Artistic world During the experience consumers are in an artistic world: the atelier. The only thing they are busy with is creating something new out of something old. There are no influences of outside, therefore consumers are able escape from the ‘real world’ into the ‘artistic world’



There are a lot of different –groups- of people with their own values and morals. According to the research, people are looking for a way to communicate who they are and where they stand for, and sometimes even find out who they are. Brand experiences enable brands to communicate their values and morals in a different way than traditional marketing. With traditional marketing consumers are just looking to the brand’s message in contrast to an experience where consumers re ‘part’ of it. When consumers have the same principle as the brand. An experience gives the possibilities to the consumer to communicate these standards to the outside world, since other people will associate the principles of the brand with the ones of the consumer. The new AA experience will send a strong message, therefore it is easy for consumers to identify with the brand or not. If consumers have done this experience they show the world their sincere motive since they extend the lifecycle of the brand. Consumers show that they are distinctive and are creating a garment which is unique and totally fits their personal style. This makes the consumer honest and dare to speak up their mind as they wear wheat ever they want.

This goal will be achieved by sending AA’s message along through a physical experience. An experience will create a conversation between the brand and its consumer. We know the conversation will be created since we analyzed the experience through the engines of conversational capital. The brand has a good story, a myth, there will be a ritual added into the consumers’ life, an exclusive product is offered, all the senses are stimulated, there is a possibility for a tribe to form and the experience is totally inline with the brand and its message. The experience will totally be what AA promises. All these things make sure it will be a truly significant experience, an experience which consumers cannot find somewhere else. Consequently, the brand is able to talk with the consumer instead of talking to the consumer. Having a conversation with the target group and participating on whet they are saying a relationship will be formed and thus brand loyalty will be obtained. On the short term, brand awareness will b formed because of the buzz the advertising campaign will generate. The billboard advertising will arouse curiosity therefore traffic to website. These create word-of-mouth and brand awareness as a consequence.

Not to forget the main goal of the experience, this is to create brand loyalty and to create brand awareness, on the European market. Within Europe AA is opening a lot of stones; they need to make sure their brand awareness is growing in the same rapid tempo


References Internet


author: Susanne Piet, title: De emotiemarkt. De toekomst van belenvingseconomie. 2006. Publisher: Pearson Education Benelux BV author: Bertrand Cesvet, Tony Babinski, Eric Alper. Title; conversational capital, Publisher; FT press, copyright 2008 author: B. Joseph pine. James H. Gilmore, Title: the experience economy, publisher: HBS press, copyright1999


Brand experience of J. Gaanders Visual Culture, Rebecca Breuer




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