Is this the end of American Apparel’s racy advertising?

Two months into her new role, American Apparel CEO Paula Schneider has made several senior management changes to her team.

This comes amid Schneider’s drive to put aside the brand’s “overtly sexual” advertising strategy to focus on social issues such as gay rights and anti-bullying, according to The Drum.

Recently it fired creative lead Iris Alonzo for the second time, five months after the brand had rehired her. Bloomberg reported the company first let her go in June when founder Dov Charney was being ousted for misconduct. However, Alonzo was hired again in October only to once again be fired.

Several fashion media outlets have linked Alonzo to working closely with Charney to build the risqué brand image of American Apparel. Along with her departure, another long-time creative director for the brand, Marsha Brady, was also let go.

In a conference call with the media, Schneider outlined several of the brand’s priorities to build the business strategy and increase shareholder value. She explained one of the key pillars for the brand under her leadership would be to build strong business fundamentals at the company and capture consumer attention in an increasingly competitive fashion landscape.

She also said the brand would be committing to investing more into the marketing and business strategies by bringing more experience-based marketing to consumers on both online and brick and mortar store platforms.

To help in this change, American Apparel has hired Cynthia Erland to oversee the company’s marketing and communications programmes. She has more than 20 years of fashion and entertainment branding experience.

Most recently, she was a senior marketing executive at Perry Ellis International. She has also held various marketing roles in C&C California, Universal Studios and E! Networks and has been lauded as a veteran in growing brand recognition, not just through advertising and public relations strategies, but also by celebrity seeding, promotions and events.

Meanwhile, to push its online agenda, Thoryn Stephens has come on board as chief digital officer. He will be responsible for optimising the company’s digital marketing, data analytics, and e-commerce strategies. Before joining the company, Stephens was vice-president of data science at Tillster, a leading customer engagement partner for the restaurant industry.
He has also built products and platforms for brands, including the first optimisation programme for the FOX Network Group (FOX Broadcasting/FOX Sports/FX) and Beachbody (P90X).

“I am excited to welcome Thoryn and Cynthia to the company. Both are innovators with deep expertise working with established brands. They will be an important addition to our experienced, creative and passionate team,” Schneider said.

End of edgy?

With all these changes in its creative and marketing team, does this mean the end of edgy marketing strategies for the iconic brand?

Possibly not, said Schneider. She was quick to add the brand had always been about social commentary and “gives a voice to everyone” from the workers in the factory to consumers.

Hence, edgy is part of its DNA.

“Consumers today are fickle, but American Apparel has remained relevant. This is because of its core values. We will continue to be creative and will continue to be bold when relating to the consumers. The essence of American apparel will remain the same as with our commitment to an innovative marketing programme which shares iconic unique branding messages.”