Although the year 2011 may hold difficult memories for many of us, one place that has some good memories is American Apparel Japan.

The five Japan stores (with their best bilingual staff in flagship stores Shibuya and Osaka) were able to make a complete turn around last year in part to the dedication and hard work of their loyal employees.

For those not familiar with the brand, American Apparel is a vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of fashion basics with all of their design, production and distribution facilities located in downtown Los Angeles.

Their factory staff are probably the best paid in the world, earning 12 dollars or so an hour, compared to the hourly 40 cents or so that their counterparts in rival companies receive in Chinese factories.

Starting with wholesale t-shirts, the brand range grew to enter the retail market and is primarily a range of casual clothes for men and women.

American Apparel is a strong advocate of immigration into the U.S. and many of its factory staff are migrants.

With a lot of hard work American Apparel Japan was able to reconstruct its brand image, shift its target market and achieve an increase in sales pushing them into the black, even though the world’s economy was down overall last year.

Sales in Japan gained momentum from the beginning of 2011 and by the end of the year retail sales showed an increase of 49 percent while online sales shot up by 64 percent.

The company continues to expect further growth in the coming new year.

2011 saw ladies chiffon skirts and blouses soar to popularity along with growing sales in their denim line. October and November saw a leap in corduroy skirts sales and the men’s denim line is also gathering momentum.

Having replaced their previous 80s pop style with a 50s-60s classic line up, the concept behind it is simply “It works”.

With their flagship store in Cat Street, Shibuya, Weekender recommends that you go to visit and check out their classic and vintage look wares including the popular “Tokyo Girls Collection”, corduroys and their new denim line.

If you are not brave enough to face the cold, you can always shop online at or for those of you who have escaped Japan’s coldest time of the year, maybe try one of their 249 retail stores located in 20 countries around the world.

American Apparel Japan

Official site: