These two guys are not having a good month. Notorious for some time, American Apparel founder Dov Charney, got the boot from the AA board this week while legendary photographer Terry Richardson currently graces the cover of New York Magazine with the word “Perverse” nearby.
Both these fellas share a high skieve factor, but pop culture would concede, there’s real (and relevant) genius lurking behind their creations. As we well know, American Apparel, basically a cotton line, took the GAP’s “basic clothes” model and cranked it to hip as hell with a higher price point. Between the AA advertising campaigns, store layout, typeface, and “Made in LA” elements, a true brand for modern times exploded.
Sure, Dov Charney is actually a privileged prep-school kid (read the gross reason he made a name for himself at Choate on NY MAG), and most girls would never want to share an elevator with him alone, but on the merit of vision for American Apparel, dude is MAJOR.
Mega-talented Richardson has been mired by recent flurry of accusations about sexual abuse on his photo sets, so it’s hard to see past the explicit image he embodies and perpetuates and not believe it’d transcend real life. Richardson though has clearly influenced brands like Vice and American Apparel, and photographers like Ryan McGinley (who, hey, was the youngest photographer to ever show at the Whitney—validate that), so can Richardson’s work be separated by some pretty disturbing accusations? It’s starting to feel a little dirty in here, and not in a good way…
Both Charney and Richardson are major pop culture influencers within the realm of provocative image making. It’s the rest of their images and public persona that make them so unlikable and ripe for public skewering. Does that negate the bigger picture or take away from their contributions to pop culture? As the Washington Post asks us, “Are the two most notorious men in fashion finally getting their comeuppance?” You decide.