Louche And Lewd American Apparel Founder Dov Charney Has Been Sacked

The high street retailer is haemorrhaging money, so the founder has been kicked out


by Pandora Sykes |
Published on

Dodgy stories about American Apparel founder Dov Charney have been percolating and circulating for as long as they have about his pal, Terry Richardson (ie: over a decade). In a case of like for like, just as the shit hits the skids for Terry, things have also reached their apex for his identically spectacled mate Dov, with the American Apparel founder being sacked yesterday.

The 45-year-old has been removed from his position as chairman of the brand that birthed the high-street hipster, in part due to his ongoing involvement in sexual harassment suits, but more relevantly, because American Apparel is in a financial slump.

‘We take no joy in this but felt it was the right thing to do,’ The Guardian reportsthe newly appointed co-chairman Allan Mayer as saying. Whether or not there is correlation between the loss of business and Dov’s dickplay, we’re not sure – but it should be noted that these tales started emerging during American Apparel’s heyday (he has never been found guilty) and neither sales nor Dov’s employment suffered back then.

So it seems more likely that it’s about the dollar bills. As a retailer, American Apparel has been struggling for the past year. Shares in the company have lost more than two thirds of their value, while in February it was reported that the high-street store had reached £141 in debt.

Part of us isn’t surprised. American Apparel seems to have been stuck in the same rut since the late noughties. They still sell the same shiny disco pants, jersey skirts and various iterations of the leotard – despite the fact that none of these things are much on anyone’s shopping lists – but with increasingly elevated price tags.

Of course, there are some excellent bits of new stock, which chime well with current fashion – unisex bomber jackets, boyfriend jeans and a truly dazzling array of scrunchies – but you have to wonder if the unusually high RRPs (double the stock of an often nearby Urban Outfitters), and the fact you can still only exchange and not return, puts it out of sync with the rest of a rapidly evolving high street.

Canadian entrepeneur Dov Charney has lived and breathed American Apparel since he he took it public in 2007 (he ran a wholesale T-shirt business before). American Apparel’s racy, often risqué disco athletic aesthetic – controversial, underwear-free, skin-tight and captured via flash photography – is pure Dov.

In fact, some of the campaigns were shot by Dov himself; a man who infamously strolled around the AA office in just a pair of pants. He did, however, also build up American Apparel as a sweatshop-free retailer, who pay their solely American workforce 50 times what someone at Rana Plaza might have earned.

Still, in recent times we’ve noticed people responding to American Apparel with a jaded eye-roll. It’s true that the ‘nu hipster’ has been mostly discarded for 90s ‘normcore’ and contemporary minimalism. But is it also because the shadiness has had its time in fashion? Who knows. But we’re definitely interested to see the shape of the company going forward, in its new hands.

Follow Pandora on Twitter @pinsykes

Picture: Bloomberg via Getty Images

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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