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


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]