Style :: Fashion

American Apparel continues to sell BUTT magazine; reiterates its support for gay shoppers

by Jason Salzenstein
Contributor
Friday Mar 6, 2009
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American Apparel Inc., the clothing company known for its often controversial ad campaigns, announced this week that it will continue to sell the controversial but critically acclaimed gay quarterly magazine BUTT in its stores around the world, against the wishes of a West Vancouver shopper who was recently offended by the magazines content and had demanded that the company pull it from its shelves.

A recent article in The Globe and Mail, American Apparel was criticized by the woman for featuring BUTT magazine in an in-store display. The woman, who was shopping with her daughter, believed the magazine to be pornographic, and demanded the company cease selling it. She’s now made it a pet issue, with the goal to "hit [American Apparel] in the pocketbook" for its choice.

The company formally responded to the matter this week, announcing that it will continue to display and sell BUTT magazine among other "cosmopolitan and diverse publications" in the stores’ signature "newsstand" sections. American Apparel has carried BUTT in its stores since 2005.

"BUTT Magazine is a wonderful fashion, culture, art magazine and a popular seller," stated company creative director Iris Alonzo. "American Apparel has always supported gay rights and will continue to support its gay and
gay-friendly customers by carrying publications and products they appreciate."

While EDGE Publications, and Style Editor Jason Salzenstein, do not always agree with American Apparel’s marketing strategies, or customer service policies, we wholeheartedly support the store’s decision to stand up for both LGBT rights and free speech.

BUTT is a quarterly magazine, published and printed in the Netherlands, since 2001. It’s available worldwide at places like the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London, Art Metropole in Toronto and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles. The magazine features photography and interviews with renowned artists and features articles that relate to trends and lifestyles in and around the gay community. Nudity and sexually themed photos, essays, and features frequently appear among its pages, of which the level of explicitness varies from quarter to quarter. Calvin Klein, Gucci, Adidas, Christian Dior, Marc Jacobs, Helmut Lang, Yves Saint Laurent are all advertisers and supporters of BUTT Magazine.

American Apparel knew their decision to support BUTT Magazine would be controversial when a different mother inquired about it more than two years ago. Responding to his own mother via email in 2007, CEO Dov Charney wrote: "I wanted our company to be open enough to accommodate this kind of magazine, and if I don’t set the precedent now, it could become too late to get that done later." He acknowledged then that American Apparel had faced some resistance from customs officials internationally but was committed to doing whatever it took to have the magazine at every American Apparel store and online.

Since the story broke last month, American Apparel has been applauded in the gay community for its decision to continue carrying BUTT magazine and for its policy of respecting diverse lifestyles. "We strongly support
American Apparel in its decision to continue displaying and selling BUTT Magazine as well as other alternative, gay or gay-friendly publications in its stores. Discrimination of any sort and the banning of free expression have no place in society, including the retail industry", declared Hans Janiak, President of the Quebec Gay Chamber of Commerce.

The company’s "Legalize Gay" campaign to reform Proposition 8, a California law banning gay marriage has donated more than $17,000 worth of t-shirts to protesters, the Harvey Milk School and gay businesses since November 2008.

Twitter :: JasonSalz

Jason Salzenstein is a writer and editor; design, image, and marketing consultant; and professional shopper. His work has appeared in numerous national and international publications and he has clients around the world. For more information :: www.JasonSalzenstein.com

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