The Infamous American Apparel Benches of the Lower East Side: Gone

The Infamous American Apparel Benches of the Lower East Side: Gone
via Bowery Boogie.

As if American Apparel isn't having enough problems these days, now, those problems are beginning to manifest in very public ways, right here in New York City. Symbolism, ahoy.

A little over three years ago, Gillian Reagan wrote a piece for the New York Observer about the "scene" at the benches in front of the Lower East Side's infamous quasi-flagship American Apparel -- open until 2 a.m. some nights, lighting up the street with its all white interiors and bright overhead florescent bulbs -- called "The Bench Bunch." People were partying in front of these benches on Houston and First Avenue until as late as 3 a.m. and engaging in "flirting, chatting and plain old, pre-Bloomberg mayhem." A slight taste of this:

The Bench has been going on for almost two months, attracting everyone from hip-hop D.J.'s (like A-Trak, Kanye West's turntablist) to trash-talking graffiti artists to modelesque party girls to school teachers and, um, Mr. Goias's twentysomething cousins from New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Well, those days -- when American Apparel was a "thing," and when "hipsters" were less of a pageview-punchline for blogs/marketing demographic and much more of a species of moderately exotic New York subculture creature -- are gone. And now, via Bowery Boogie, so are many of those infamous benches:

According to one sales associate, this permanent removal was a "whole ordeal," but necessary since they "didn't want people living outside the store anymore." And since this particular branch is open until 2 a.m., the powers-that-be wanted to ensure safety of their employees around the perimeter. Something dire must've occurred for such drastic measures. Indeed, those benches were in place for years, and yanked all of a sudden.

Alas, four benches still remain, but one must wonder if this is a coincidentally ill-timed representation of what many see as the scandal-happy skeevy-sexy retailer's imminent downfall. After all, Dov Charney himself did declare the hipster "over." Who knows what kind of self-fufilling prophecy -- awareness-lacking or otherwise -- that might turn out to be?

[h/t NYC The Blog]

[fkamer@villagevoice.com]


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