Strip Tees: A Memoir of Millennial Los Angeles
Strip Tees is a fever dream of a memoir—Hunter S. Thompson meets Gloria Steinem—about a recent college graduate and what happens when her feminist ideals meet the real world.
At the turn of the new millennium, LA is the place to be. “Hipster” is a new word on the scene. Lauren Conrad is living her Cinderella story in the “Hills” on millions of television sets across the country. Paris Hilton tells us “That’s hot” from behind the biggest sunglasses imaginable, while beautiful teenagers fight and fall in love on The O.C.
Into this most glittering of supposed utopias, Kate Flannery arrives with a Seven Sisters diploma in hand and a new job at an upstart clothing company called American Apparel. Kate throws herself into the work, determined to climb the corporate fashion ladder. Having a job at American Apparel also means being a part of the advertising campaigns themselves, stripping down in the name of feminism.
She slowly begins to lose herself in a landscape of rowdy sex-positivity, racy photo shoots, and a cultlike devotion to the unorthodox CEO and founder of the brand. The line between sexual liberation and exploitation quickly grows hazy, leading Kate to question the company’s ethics and wrestle with her own.
Strip Tees captures a moment in our recent past that’s already sepia toned in nostalgia, and also paints a timeless portrait of a young woman who must choose between what business demands and self-respect requires.
Praise for Strip Tees: A Memoir of Millennial Los Angeles
Named an Apple Best Book of July
Named a Town & Country Must-Read for Summer 2023
Named a Goodreads "Most Anticipated Book of Summer"
“A racy, thoughtful memoir of [Flannery's] tenure during the rise and fall of the controversial company...Strip Tees is devourable, rendered in efficient, colorful scenes. Flannery’s conversion from credulous retail recruit to company woman doesn’t trade in hyper-intellectual #MeToo-era analysis or retrospective scolding. Instead, its currency is the prickly panic of realizing your life doesn’t match your principles, spiked with salacious specifics that evoke the highly sexed environment of American Apparel’s cultural and commercial peak.”
—New York Times Book Review
“Begins like a classic Hollywood noir...Strip Tees goes down as easy as a rum and Diet Coke, breezily written and punctuated at its intermission by a few pages of glossy photos...[it's] as if Flannery were recounting the saga of her ill-fated years at American Apparel directly to you — not in a suburban basement, but perhaps over frozen rosé outside a hotel bar, where we can smell the pool water and swimsuit Lycra.”
"Remember American Apparel? The aura of retro cool girls, sleazy ads and, as it turned out, sexual exploitation? Author Kate Flannery brings it all back in an account of her own journey through the company that proclaimed sex positivity even as it trafficked in crass capitalism and worse. It’s a fun, dark, sad, seedy story — an only-in-L.A. experience with cultural implications far beyond one cheapo fast-fashion brand."
—Los Angeles Times
"[Strip Tees] provides a tantalizing glimpse into the company’s meteoric rise and fall."
—New York Post
“[A] juicy debut!”
—The Amazon Book Review, Named a “Most Anticipated Book of Summer”
“I couldn't put this one down...Written like an edge-of-your-seat cinematic narrative, Strip Tees will make you think and feel.”
—Zibby Owens, Good Morning America
“In her new memoir, Kate Flannery raises the curtain on what it was really like to work for the brand at the height of its powers, and to enter the work force hoping to change the world only to find it trying to change you. It's a funny, insightful look back at a defining moment and a meditation on the perils of growing up.”
—Town & Country
“Raw and engaging...An intriguing read for those interested in the story behind the rise and fall of American Apparel.”
"[A] bold debut memoir...Flannery succeeds in illustrating the fashion industry’s blurred lines in the decade prior to #MeToo, and the tough choices women faced between professional success and personal safety. This is an authentic portrait of the battle to remain true to oneself."
“As the author details her initiation into the realities of corporate misogyny, the author provides a disturbing look at the dangerous ways modern capitalism can debase, deform, and blind the individuals it exploits...A candid and provocative memoir.”
“Compelling and brave, Kate’s story is a must read for all young women learning how to navigate adulthood and identity.”
—Lili Reinhart, New York Times bestselling author
“Hypnotically devastating and funny in unexpected ways, Kate Flannery's Strip Tees fearlessly guides us back to her early working days, questioning her choices while exposing the heartbreaking, often outrageous, manipulations that seduced her into the cult-like milieu of American Apparel. It's so wild, and she captures it superbly.”
—Laura Albert, aka JT LeRoy, author of Sarah and The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things
“Strip Tees was a book I could not put down. As I read Kate Flannery's memoir of being one of the first American Apparel employees, I was flooded with Millennial nostalgia and then hit by the realization that I wore tube socks as a 14-year-old girl because Dov Charney was into old issues of Hustler where women wore tube socks. This book is a feminist, inside look at one of the creepiest corners of the 2000s.”
—Blythe Roberson, author of How to Date Men When You Hate Men
“Reading Kate Flannery’s memoir Strip Tees felt like stepping into a Sofia Coppola film about Los Angeles in the mid-aughts: Everyone is smiling and laughing and flirting and then the soundtrack turns ominous and the walls start to melt. This book is a rapid, queasy descent into hipster hell, and I couldn’t get enough of it.”
—Heather Havrilesky, Ask Polly columnist and author of Foreverland: On the Divine Tedium of Marriage
“Kate Flannery's technicolor tale of innocence lost is a searing, time-capsule portrait of the American millennial dreamscape--both it's shimmering veneer and sordid underbelly--backlit by sex, sun and scandal, and written in prose that sings as it breaks your heart. Every generation produces a handful of memoirs that define it. Strip Tees is one of them. I couldn't put it down.”
—David Goodwillie, author of Kings County