Mon-Thu, 10am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 10am-10pm; Sun, 11am-8pm
N, R at 8th St.-NYU; 6 at Astor Pl.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
Before becoming a ubiquitous retail presence, American Apparel was a maverick wholesaler in East L.A. out to prove that a clothing label manufactured in the U.S., free of sweatshop labor, could be both profitable and affordable. While the company may have outgrown some of its fierce social consciousness, its clothing remains the same: solid-color cotton basics for men and women in trend-bending styles. The designs are simple and inexpensive enough to layer, though each season brings a few more sexed-up items in step with current trends. Additions like swimwear, baby onesies, and ringer T-shirts for dogs have also livened up the collection. No two stores are exactly alike, but all share the same minimalist, DIY design of fluorescent lights, adjustable shelves, and large voyeuristic photographs, and a social scene of young, hip customers seeking anonymous garments they can infuse with their own sense of style.