American Apparel’s image has gone to shit within the last couple of years, thanks in large part to its former CEO Dov Charney.
Faced with a slew of sexual assault allegations and discrimination lawsuits, Charney quickly fell from grace after the company conducted an internal investigation that ultimately resulted in his termination. And although Charney no longer holds a position with American Apparel, the brand’s new CEO, Paula Schneider, says it’s time for the company to move past that tumultuous era by adopting a new look—a much less sexualized look.
“It doesn’t have to be overtly sexual,” Schneider told Business of Fashion. “There’s a way to tell our story where it’s not offensive. It is an edgy brand. And it will continue to be an edgy brand.”
Rather than strictly focus on sex, Schneider says her team is exploring ways to underscore the store’s other strengths, which will likely help the brand get away from its creepy and exploitative reputation. There will more attention given social issues, like gay rights and anti-bullying, as well as more emphasis on American Apparel’s made-in-the-U.S.A. production—a component that was almost abandoned under Charney's rule.
“No one knows we’re the biggest apparel manufacturer in North America,” Schneider said. “That message hasn’t been told. It’s taken a back seat.”
Though the company has a lot of work to do, it still clearly has a chance to recapture its glory days by putting a spotlight on its initial foundation: all-American quality basics.
Furthermore, the company also has plans to broaden its appeal among millennial shoppers by conducting more collaborations with artists and designers, as well as giving more attention to its top-selling items. This is an excellent way to remind people that American Apparel is more than just a scandalous has-been brand that shamelessly used sex to hold onto its relevance.
However, it's important to note that sex will still be a part of its DNA.
“It has to be a little sexy,” Schneider explained. “We sell lingerie. We sell hosiery. You just make sure we aren’t crossing the line. It should be about empowering women, empowering people.”
[via Business of Fashion]