(Photos: Marc Levy)

American Apparel combines the challenging aesthetic of Benetton (known for solving all of the world’s problems in the 1980s and its controversial advertising) with the sleaze and lameness of Abercrombie & Fitch (known for its tiresome ubiquity and controversial advertising), but the clothier seems to be taking a new tack — away from sexiness and toward awkwardness.

The Harvard Square store is pitching outfits so lame that even a nonviolent Cambridge type, upon seeing a hipster gullible enough to spend $160-plus on them, would think, “That guy probably will, and should, get beaten up.” The ensemble inside the store (in an ultracasual “people sit like this all the time” Sears catalog pose) has been all mustard-beiged out, except for the brilliantly dark socks. Because everyone knows how cool dark socks look with light brown shorts. Hope there are sandals with that outfit.

Outside, the outfit somehow gets better, meaning worse: That’s a peachy-pink shirt with light-brown vest and gray shorts with a brown belt. (And notice the female mannequin to the left trying to induce hot 20-year-olds to dress like a suburban mother of four. Sweet.) The only rational reason for these fashions to be featured by this much-loathed company, with its universally loathed CEO, is to deflect attention from bad press resulting from its habit of firing workers who aren’t pretty enough. But plummeting to the depths of the uncool to do so is just confusing, isn’t it?

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