Brands that Won’t Survive 2012: American Apparel and Sears?

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Pictured: An American Apparel Store,  Photo:  John Makely file

Every year 24/7 Wall St. creates a list of brands that will disappear, meaning, they are going out of business in big way.  Puff! They are about to disappear.  That image reminds me of the wicked witch melting in the Wizard of Oz.  This year’s list of sinking brands includes Sears, Sony Pictures, American Apparel, Nokia, Saab, A&W All-American Foods Restaurants, Soap Opera Digest, Sony Ericsson, MySpace, and Kellog’s Corn Pops.  Upon reading this story, my first thought was, wait, what about the Kardashians bringing fashion to Sears?   Does this mean that a mass produced line of celebrity labeled fashion probably made in China or India won’t be able to rake in profits? I’d actually be glad to see that.  However, I’m sad for Sears that they are on this list, although fashion may not be their strongest suit, they certainly do deliver consumer value with brands like Kenmore.

And what about American Apparel? Their stores are all over here in Southern California. According to 24/7, “the once-hip retailer, reached the brink of bankruptcy earlier this year, and there is no indication that it has gained anything more than a little time with its latest financing. ” Sadly, I haven’t seen anything lust-worthy over at American Apparel since Jennifer Hudson wore one of their dresses on her album cover.  I think the brand is simply being eclipsed by the proliferation of budget designer lines in the market from folks like Target and even Walmart’s Norma Kamali.  Maybe they should look at being a brand within a retail store, rather than a stand alone store brand.  What do you think readers? Do you buy American Apparel? I’d like to see them stick around because they are made in the US, and there are so few brands especially in fashion, that provide jobs to Americans.

As for the failure of MySpace, that’s not really much of a surprise. MySpace was once the top social media networking sites and it was one of the first in market.  It seems that Facebook passed them long ago, but I feel bad for the customers who have created strong communities on MySpace. It’s time for them to start thinking about their migration strategy now.


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.


  1. jill

    June 24, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    I was surprised to see American Apparel on the out list, but when I think about it, the store specializes in trendy ugly clothing. I own a number of pieces from their line, but every piece is very stand alone and needs something “normal” or mainlined to balance it out. The store caught its big break on the heels of the hipster trend, because hipsters wear clothing intended to shock in its unusual or borderline ugly appearance (I acknowledge I've totally bought into this trend in the past). Sometimes it's fun to mix things up a bit, but since the hipster trend is dying out (a trend of the '00 years), American Apparel has lost its backbone.

    I think you had a good idea saying they should take up space in a smaller store. I would be so bereft if they went out of business completely, and I can see them occupying a niche market in the future. They're space-agey, while seeming vintage, almost like something you would find in a thrift store from the future. I don't want to see them die!

    – jill

  2. girl in the poodle shoes

    June 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm

    Yea, I am surprised to see American Apparel on that list. I shop there for a few basic pieces every now and then, hipster isn't really my style so I stick to staple items. But I have to say, I have loved everything I've gotten there, it has held up well and I LOVE that it's made in the USA without the crazy upcharge.

    I will say though that I have not found the majority of the people who work there to be particularly helpful. They tend to chat amongst themselves rather than engage their customers. (This is just based off of a few of my personal experiences, not trying to generalize too much here)

    Girl in the Poodle Shoes
    ^Follow the link to my style blog…!

  3. Target-Addict

    June 26, 2011 at 12:23 am

    American Apparel doesn't surprise me because of A) their financial woes, and B) the sexual harrassment suits filed against their founder, Dov Charney. Sears doesn't surprise me either (just drove past one today that was having a “closing sale” for that location) but it does make me sad. Whatever happened to their recent fashion lines with French Connection and Next UK? Did you see those in store? Was the stuff any good? Obviously not good enough to boost Sears' sales, I guess.