After letting its own hare-brained PR scheme get the better of it this week, American Apparel may have finally done something right.
Upon publicly lambasting 24-year-old college student Nancy Upton for mocking its online contest aimed at plus -size models (and then, infuriatingly, winning it), the company has made an about-face and offered to fly Ms. Upton to its Los Angeles headquarters to tour its factories, meet its creative team and continue the dialogue about the perception of plus -sized women in the media. Oh, and they want her to blog about whatever she sees there.
Iris Alonzo, creative director at American Apparel and the writer of the letter to Ms. Upton, told Ad Age she never meant to come across as a "mean girl," and the media backlash inspired her to change her approach.
"After I sent her the letter, I got a lot of supportive feedback but even more telling me that I came off as mean and condescending. I'm not a 'mean girl' and I didn't want to leave it on that note," she wrote in an email to Ad Age . "So, I apologized and invited her out. I hope that she'll see another side to our company -- the progressive, creative and sincere side that I was defending in my letter to her."
Ms. Upton has agreed to make the trip, and applauds American Apparel's newly diplomatic approach to her.
"I think it says something good about them," she told Ad Age today. "In the past whenever something negative happened, they've pretty much just said, 'That's not true,' and never talked about it again. This happened, it got a negative response in media, so they looked at that and said, 'Maybe we should try something else.' I think [that 's] a sign of maturity."
Last month, the embattled clothing retailer launched a pun-tastic campaign dubbed "The Next Big Thing", encouraging plus -size young women to enter to win a chance to model some of its XL items.
Ms. Upton, a student at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was nauseated at the contest description, which reads:
Calling curvy ladies everywhere! Our best-selling Disco Pant (and around 10 other sexy styles) are now available in size XL, for those of us who need a little extra wiggle room where it counts. We're looking for fresh faces (and curvaceous bods) to fill these babies out. If you think you've got what it takes to be the next XLent model, send us photos of you and your junk to back it up.
... Show us what you're workin' with!