Former American Apparel CEO Dov Charney sat down for an interview with Business of Fashion and shed fascinating light on his departure from the company he built. In the interview, Charney cited the famous immigration crackdown on the company as the turning point for its downturn. “The point when we lost was the immigration. We had to borrow a lot of money to keep rolling with all that debt,” he said.
Charney disliked the media's use of the term "raid." “It was not a raid. It was an I-9 audit by the government. We were found to be compliant with all immigration laws, but we had to let go and rehire thousands of people. This was the only challenge," he explained. "Otherwise, this was one of the greatest brands that came out of the US in a decade, or multiple decades. It was a fantastic brand. Sure, there were ups and downs. But we could’ve continued going.”
Now, however, Charney sounds pessimistic about his former company's forward path. “The business is dead now. It’s gone. It will never come back,” he said. “It is not going to resurrect. It’s not going to have a happy ending. They destroyed it.”
Instead, Charney is moving on to his newest venture. Although the company doesn't currently have a name, he has big plans for building it in a similar—albeit accelerated—fashion to American Apparel. “We plan to sell as a stockist [to the] screen printing industry,” he says. “And, secondarily, to consumers, through an online store, which we don’t have established yet. And through a number of bricks and mortar stores. We might do a number of different brands.”
One final note that Charney touched on was the criticism of his ads as "pornographic." Charney noted that he believed his style of advertisement had won out in the end. "I created a new aesthetic,” he said. “Challenged norms. Challenged perceptions of beauty.... [American Apparel] was designed for well-educated consumers. It wasn’t designed for the suburbs.”
You can read the entire interview here.