Breaking: American Apparel Shutters its Longtime LES Location
You could say an era has just ended. American Apparel, both product of and force behind the first act of hyper-gentrification on the Lower East Side, just called it quits.
Yup, that butcher paper isn’t there for a new window installation of half-naked mannequins. This time, it’s for keeps. A sign in the door notes the closure and directs customers to its nearest open stores (121 Spring, 704 Broadway). An employee further confirmed the news to us. Inventory is boxed up behind the obstruction.
The closure shouldn’t come as a surprise, though. American Apparel famously bottomed out this fall, declaring Chapter 11 bankruptcy and announcing a string of store closures. 183 East Houston is but the latest.
American Apparel debuted on the Lower East Side way back in 2004, one of the first in Manhattan. Before Hell Square was really Hell Square. Three years later, the store expanded its footprint into 199 Orchard. All the while, its window displays and over-sexed banner advertising nearby became something of legend, constantly pushing the envelope in the public sphere. For instance, the female mannequins nearly two years ago that showed some nipple and untrimmed lady parts.
And lest we forget the once-vibrant bench scene out front, where scenesters were known to congregate at all hours. Of course, it helped that the store was open until midnight. (The Observer even wrote a long-read about it in 2007.) The majority of seat installments were removed five years ago, though, because they “didn’t want people living” outside the establishment anymore.
A valuable corner anchor is now vacant, likely fueling fears of what could fill the gargantuan shoes of a corporate giant. And what will become of Nathan, the Mayor of Orchard Street, who keeps watch from these corner benches?