Dov Charney's warehouse for his new company sits on a desolate street in South Central Los Angeles, about four miles south of American Apparel’s former downtown headquarters. He stands inside looking ragged under a few days of stubble, dressed in a white short-sleeve polo shirt, white pants, and white sneakers. It’s uncanny he’s here at all. Since his ouster from American Apparel in 2014 and subsequent failure to buy back the company he founded, Charney has repeatedly vowed with all of his old, oozing certitude that he would start all over again if he had to. It would be a company just like American Apparel - only better.
But American Apparel’s 2015 bankruptcy wiped out most of his net worth, so where would he get the money? Didn’t his tawdry past of sexual harassment allegations make him radioactive? And shouldn’t American Apparel’s collapse prove that making clothes in the U.S. is a fool’s errand?
Yet here he is, at 48, overseeing a startup with seamstresses and fabric cutters and boxes of T-shirts waiting to be shipped across the country. He's on, he's riffing, he’s explaining the benefits of immigration, he’s envisioning a company that will someday hit $1bn in revenue. (American Apparel topped out at $634m in 2013.) “We’re building, grooving, growing,” Charney says.
His new company, Los Angeles Apparel, was launched late last year as a wholesale business — just like American Apparel’s origins in 1989 — selling blank basics such as T-shirts and sweatshirts. As he walks through a production floor humming with dozens of sewing machines, taking phone calls and answering questions from underlings, Charney lays out his comeback plan.
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