Bright Lights, Big Tizzy: American Apparel Goes Dark On Smith Street

Luminous retailer American Apparel has agreed to turn off its blinding flourescent bulbs at night to appease its complaining Carroll Gardens neighbors, according to this week's Brooklyn Paper. The switch-flipping decision comes as little surprise to The Observer, which previously profiled the same Smith Street location as part of an expose on American Apparel's apparent plan to illuminate all of gloomy Gotham.

In that article, this reporter quoted one local saying, "Whoever moves in across the street is gonna need some really dark blinds.”

Did we call it or what?

Each American Apparel store puts out "roughly 100 foot candles of light," referring to the traditional measure of luminescence, which means staring at an American Apparel window is like standing a foot from 100 candles--far above the 30 to 50 foot-candles recommended for mass-merchandise retailers by the Illuminating Engineering Society of North America.

The Observer quoted one expert comparing American Apparel's lighting strategy to that of McDonald's, K-Mart, and Wal-Mart.

Brooklyn Paper compared it to something else entirely: pornography.

“Pornography is about leaving nothing unexposed,” said [Brooklyn photographer] Seth Mitter. “It was all there, under bright fluorescent lights. In a way, it was a good contrast for the neighborhood.”