Ubiquitous T-shirt shop American Apparel was the target of a group of supposedly anarchist protesters who smashed the windows of the Noho Broadway store this weekend. The melee continued on the Internet, with rumors, and even videos, fueling the fire.
It's a surprisingly complicated situation for the neon-dipped-cotton hipster haven. After the reported attack went down, a group called Defend Capital released an ironic video of the incident that mocks American Apparel's (and its consumers') indenture to capitalism and consumerism by portraying the "hero" defenders of the vandals in dramatic fashion as Capital Defenders.
Subsequent speculation has gone two ways. Gothamist and other blogs cried foul on the authenticity of the whole thing, likening the whole spectacle to a bizarre viral marketing strategy -- possibly even engineered by the supposed victim, American Apparel. Others believe it was an authentic attack, possibly due to the discontent over the company's controversial position on immigration reform.
American Apparel reps quickly released a statement to dispel the rumor, citing similar attacks in DC over the company's Legalize Gay shirts. The company strongly denied that they would put anyone in harm's way (like one employee who broke an arm during Saturday's incident, for example) for the sake of advertising. Yes, the chain's MO is to push the envelope as far as possible (the billboards are a classic example), but to say that American Apparel has shifted its publicity tactics from overt sexuality to anarchy is pretty far-fetched.