Alden Wicker is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn. She covers sustainable fashion and living, personal finance, and other curiosities.

Sex, Drugs, And V-Neck Tees: Inside The Cult Of American Apparel

Sex, Drugs, And V-Neck Tees: Inside The Cult Of American Apparel

Stephanie Padilha's is the quintessential American Apparel story: a young woman specially picked by AA’s former CEO Dov Charney for greatness — and hipness.

"I grew up as a girl in Brazil hearing from my mom about the quality of the cotton T-shirts and the denim from America,” says the 28-year-old Padilha. After graduating with a degree in fashion and fine arts, she worked at magazines and with Brazilian designers, and was cast in a few commercials and B movies. She had a fashion blog, where she would pose in dreamy, '20s-era outfits with starry crowns and vintage makeup — until she discovered American Apparel. "I remember seeing one of the ads with the high-waisted denim. I was so stoked that they had one location in São Paulo,” she says. In 2008, she applied for a job at the store and was hired in the stockroom, quickly moving up to sales and visual merchandising.

That’s when Charney made a personal visit to the store where she worked. “[During that week], he saw my dedication,” says Padilha, who transferred to American Apparel’s Los Angeles headquarters a year later to be a regional merchandiser. "I was in love with this company,” she says — especially its dedication to manufacturing fashion in America at a time when all the other major players had shifted their operations overseas. "There is no other place where I would feel more happy and proud to work than American Apparel. All my passion came because it was sweatshop-free,” she says.

Read the rest on Refinery29. 

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