The Saga of Dov Charney and his Apparel Business

Dov Charney is an American entrepreneur who is best-known for his support on the “Made in America” campaign. Born in Quebec, Canada on January 31, 1969, he founded American Apparel and Los Angeles Apparel, two vertically integrated clothing companies.

Dov Charney
Dov Charney (Credit: via Facebook)

Dov Charney was the son of an architect father and an artist mother. As a high school student, he was fascinated with American goods and started importing American-made t-shirts for resale to his Canadian friends. In 1987, he enrolled at Tuft University but dropped out later to start his clothing business. However, the business failed miserably. Undaunted, he moved to Los Angeles and formed American Apparel.

Thriving on the image as a source of sexy but affordable clothing that are manufactured in America, the company prospered by having its own factory and retail outlets. It promoted itself as “sweatshop-free” and as a company that adheres to fair labor standard.

By 2004, the factory in Los Angeles had 2,500 employees, some of whom were Mexican immigrants who received equal pay with the American citizens. It had sales of over $80 million in 26 stores including newly opened branches abroad. The following year, it went public.

In 2015, Dov was fired from the company he founded over charges of sexual harassment and sexual liaisons with employees and models. By this time, American Apparel had 245 retail stores in 20 countries. Unfazed by the charges against him, he established another company, Los Angeles Apparel in 2016. Its structure and company culture was patterned after that of American Apparel. It also has its own factory and online presence.

Meanwhile, American Apparel went bankrupt in 2015. It was given a new lease of life by the court but it went bankrupt again in 2016. The brand was sold to Canadian company Gildan Activewear and its products are available online.

In 2020, Los Angeles Apparel started producing face mask and the federal government became one of its customers. However, many of its employees were infected of the coronavirus and the factory was ordered closed.


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