5 Brands Very Much Like American Apparel

Brands Like American Apparel
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Last Updated on June 9, 2022

Do you miss the provocative but basic style of American Apparel? This late 90s staple brand has had its up and downs but has managed to pull through it all and is still alive and kicking. 

The company was founded by Dov Charney, an entrepreneur Canadian, as a wholesale t-shirt selling business in 1989. During the 90s, the brand quickly rose to popularity and became iconic beyond its original niche, but it wouldn’t be until early 2000 that it would gain its cool status, in big part to its provocative and subversive campaigns full of innuendo and sexual allure. 

After the brand went bankrupt in 2015, it worked hard to rebrand itself. On its surface, it looks the same but it leans more towards a soft aesthetic, with a certain natural vibe about it that veers off from its sensual roots. What was once cheeky and a bit slutty has been transformed into a message of empowerment. It now focuses on fashionable basics that are timeless and go with anything. 

Keeping that in mind I have gone and done the research for you for similarly accessible brands that offer great basics, with trending one-pieces that really surf the nostalgia wave and that are youthful but wearable. Read on to check which 5 brands made the list! 

Main qualities of American Apparel

  • Los Angeles hipster cool style
  • Provocative advertising
  • Classic
  • Wearable
  • Basic garments
  • Young and rebellious brand voice
  • Proper wages paid to workers
  • Great quality, low prices

Most iconic garments from American Apparel

  • Hoodies
  • T-shirts
  • Lingerie inspired tops

#1. Uniqlo


Overview: Uniqlo is a Japanese apparel manufacturer that specializes in ready-to-wear.

Price Range: $$

Origin and Concept: The company was founded in 1949 by Tadashi Yanai under the name “Unique Clothing Warehouse”. In 1988, during administrative work in Hong Kong, someone misspelled the C as a Q and the new name was born! In 1997, Uniqlo adopted a set of strategies that included producing its own clothing and selling it exclusively. Since then the brand has specialized in manufacturing garments of great quality, with technical fabrics like Heatech or Airism (one for warmth and the other for ventilation), and creating myriad collaborations with artists and designers alike. 

Recommended Product(s): Ukiyo-e UT (Short-Sleeve Graphic T-Shirt) + Printed Cotton Tiered Camisole Dress (Hana Tajima) & Denim Cropped Jacket + Satin Drape Jogger Trousers

Celebs who are fans: Selena Gomez, Vanessa Paradis, Lily-Rose Depp, Hailey Bieber, Charlize Theron, Emily Ratajkowski, and Daisy Riddle, among others.

Ethical Practices: Uniqlo has set some decent environmental policies in the right direction. It has a “repair and use” program in place and it also uses some eco-friendly materials, as well as having a CanopyStlye-approved policy to manage forestry in its supply chain. It also reduces water use in some of its supply chain. On a not-so-positive note, despite having set a climate change target to reduce emissions, it does not report on its progress and it has not been accepted as science-based as of yet. It is also not as transparent about its global environmental impact as it could be. 

#2. ASOS


Overview: ASOS is a British online fashion and cosmetic retailer. 

Price Range: $$

Origin and Concept: The company was founded in 2000, in London, by Nick Robertson, Andrew Regan, Quentin Griffiths, and Deborah Thorpe. ASOS originally stood for AsSeenOnScreen and was aimed at young adults. It exclusively sold imitations of clothing seen in films, one of its earliest iconic products being Brad Pitt’s red jacket from the movie “Fight Club”. ASOS later on developed its own collections of garments and branched out into the cosmetic industry. ASOS now offers its customers plenty of fun and authentic products that are easy to wear, affordable, and ship almost everywhere in the world.

Recommended Product(s): Nobody’s Child Daisy floral print jumpsuit in lilac + Public Desire plisse tassel cargo trousers in cream & ASOS EDITION off shoulder linen wrap belted midi dress in red + Weekday wrap mini skirt in black

Celebs who are fans: Bella Hadid, Taylor Swift, Emma Roberts, Kanye West, Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner, Meghan Markle, Kate Bosworth, Kate Middleton, Amber LE Bon, Ella Eyre, Gigi Hadid, Kourtney Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Paloma Faith, Sandra Bullock, and Sarah Hyland, among others.

Ethical Practices: ASOS uses some eco-friendly materials like organic cotton but there is no evidence that it minimizes textile waste during manufacture. There is also no evidence it implements water reduction and it hasn’t set a greenhouse gas target goal to reduce its emissions. What’s really a bummer is that none of its supply chain is certified by labor standards. However, it does have a formal animal welfare policy, so I guess that’s something.  

#3. Everlane


Overview: Everlane is an American clothing retailer that specializes in ready-to-wear garments. 

Price Range: $$

Origin and Concept: The brand was founded in 2010 by Michael Preysman and Jesse Farmer in San Francisco, United States. Its goal was to create clothing while being absolutely transparent with its pricing. To achieve that, it focused on sourcing ethical materials while enabling its customers to see the real cost that went into making each piece of clothing. It was an instant success! They currently embrace their role and constantly educate customers on its supply chain, factories, and employees and always break down the cost of each item. 

Recommended Product(s): The Italian Leather Buckle Heel + The Ribbed Tank Dress & The Italian Leather Studio Bag + The Button Smock Top

Celebs who are fans: Angelina Jolie, Meghan Markle, Prince Harry, Jaime King, Jessica Paré, Shailene Woodley, Bella Hadid, and Sienna Miller, among others.

Ethical Practices: To sum it up, Everlane environmental policies are not good enough. Despite using some recycled and eco-friendly fabrics, there is no evidence that it minimizes its textile waste or that it has any type of circular economy measures in place. It pledged to stop using plastic by 2021, including packaging and synthetic fiber clothing but there is no evidence it managed that. Regarding labor at the company, there is no evidence that they have any sort of empowerment measures. 

#4. Missguided


Overview: Missguided is a UK-based retailer that specializes in garments for young-ish (Millenial) women.

Price Range: $$

Origin and Concept: The company was founded in 2009 by Nitin Passi in Stretford, Greater Manchester. By 2010, it had conquered Nordstrom in the US, and in 2015, it introduced tall and petite lines that widened its ranges. In 2016 it also launched a line of wedding dresses! Talk about covering lots of niches! Missguided is all about creating fun fashion that follows trends and is budget-friendly and easy to acquire. The brand is big on inclusion and often portrays curvy and real women in its advertising campaigns. 

Recommended Product(s): Orange rib long sleeve exposed seam mini dress + White co-ord magazine print ruched front mesh mini skirt & White satin ruched bust bodysuit + Orange tie-dye asymmetric ruched mesh mini dress

Celebs who are fans: Bella Hadid, Gabi DeMartino, Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Jesy Nelson, Sofia Richie, Anastasia Karanikolaou, and Kylie Jenner, among others.

Ethical Practices: Misguided does not communicate enough facts about their environmental policies to form an opinion. However, what little we know doesn’t look good for the brand. It doesn’t look like it has any type of policy to minimize its use of microplastics, or that it reduces or eliminates textile waste. If I were you, I would avoid them!

#5. Urban Outfitters

Urban Outfitters

Overview: Urban Outfitters is an American company that sells fashion apparel, footwear, beauty, and accessories, among other things. 

Price Range: $$$

Origin and Concept: The company was originally founded in 1970 as the retail store Free People by Richard Hayne, Judy Wicks, and Scott Belair. It was a project for an entrepreneurship class at their University, but by 1976 it had been renamed Urban Outfitters and become a lifestyle brand. Aesthetically, it relies heavily on the hipster subculture and focuses on creating alternative fashion for adults. Its combination of good quality products, creative style, cultural understanding, and representation have turned them into a force to be reckoned with. 

Recommended Product(s): E8 By Miista Amita Clog + Maria La Rose Mini Game Crochet Clutch & UO Last Night Sheer Lace-Up Top + Blackcurrant Pop Dotty Charm Bracelet

Celebs who are fans: Taylor Swift, Vanessa Hudgens, Gigi Hadid, Blake Lively, Selena Gomez, Ellie Goulding, Pax Jolie-Pitt, and Lauren Conrad, among others.

Ethical Practices: Urban Outfitters is owned by URBN and there is no evidence this company either minimizes its textile waste or ensures worker safety and health throughout its supply chain. There is also no proof that it eliminates hazardous chemicals from its production or that takes any measure whatsoever to be greener apart from using some renewable energy in its direct operations.

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Lorena Lombardo
Lorena Lombardo is a fashion designer specialized in trend forecasting and fashion journalism. She studied at the UAL (University of London), ORT (Universidad ORT Uruguay), and taken various courses about traditional craftsmanship while living in Tokyo. Some of her favorite memories during the 90s include wearing bucket hats and trying to copy Rachel’s hairstyle. Her absolute favorite show was Buffy: the Vampire Slayer but she was also a huge fan of Clueless because of its amazing fashion choices. Her top track of the decade is currently disputed between How soon is Now? by the Smiths and Here with me by Dido. Both also happen to be the opening songs for two great 90s shows: Charmed and Roswell. Coincidence? I think not!