More than a year after American Apparel went bankrupt and shut down all of its stores — a fleet that had bloomed to locations during its heyday in the late aughts — the company is preparing to open a new shop. After going bankrupt twice, the company was bought by Canadian retailer Gildan Activewear in early When Gildan relaunched American Apparel later that year, its name was the same, but key aspects of its identity were missing; its guts were different.
American Apparel is a good case study for this phenomenon; the brand has changed under Gildan in very clear ways. On a surface level, it looks similar to what it was before: The brand still sells its most iconic styles, and its Instagram still features the high-flash photography for which the brand was known though its newest photos lean more toward soft, natural light.
Its tone, once cheeky and fairly smutty, has been transformed into a message of empowerment — the idea is that shoppers can still look sexy in a bodysuit or colorful, skintight pants, but on their own terms. And American Apparel, once a champion of domestic manufacturing, is no longer wholly made in America. Everybody sells a T-shirt. Having a strong brand means you can sell a blank T-shirt as a premium product.
American Apparel was known for colorful wardrobe basics, a strict practice of manufacturing in the United States, and ultra-sexualized advertising imagery.
High energy and outspoken, Charney was an unconventional CEO in every way. For a long time, he managed to hang onto his business despite a reputation for inappropriate behavior. That reputation was magnified by a article in Jane magazine saying that he masturbated in front of reporter Claudine Ko, and it resulted in a string of sexual harassment lawsuits. Charney stayed on as a consultant to American Apparel after his firing, and waged a legal battle for control of the company.
So began one attempt to make over a company with a tarnished reputation and slumping sales. But in October , American Apparel filed for bankruptcy , weighed down by debt, and a year later, Schneider too was heading out the door. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. In November , the company filed for a second bankruptcy. That year, Charney founded another basics brand called Los Angeles Apparel. It relaunched its website in August , and though it looked very much like the old American Apparel, it was Gildan under the hood.
When Boohoo acquired and rebooted the bankrupt Nasty Gal, it, too, looked fairly similar on an aesthetic level. But one thing made it abundantly clear that the brand had changed hands: Numerous people who had purchased items during the ownership transition found that their credit cards had been charged but no order had been shipped, and they went off on Nasty Gal on social media.
We do advise you contact your bank and request a chargeback. Downstairs is a photo studio where, in mid-July, the house photographer was reshooting e-commerce photos. The models had looked too stiff in the first set of pictures, and since American Apparel has no stores right now, the team decided they needed to do them over to show more movement and angles. American Apparel has made no commitments yet to establish stores beyond the Melrose location, which opens in December, but even one storefront will give the company a much-needed chance to woo customers in real life.
Negative space signals confidence; every minimally-stocked luxury store knows that. Standing at the island in the American Apparel kitchen, Weber laid out images for a campaign for nude bodysuits that launched in early September. The pictures showed a diverse bunch of women wearing leotards in nine different shades of nude — eight more than American Apparel used to offer, Weber says. Following in the footsteps of brands that make lingerie for shoppers of all skin tones , American Apparel is trying to be more inclusive.
Weber joined the brand more than two years ago, right before it headed into bankruptcy, and managed the messaging around the store shutdowns while looking for other work. She was hesitant when Gildan asked her to stay on through the acquisition, but, she says, she loved American Apparel. Her vision for the new American Apparel is a tricky thing to pull off. For its fall collection, however, American Apparel shot models in outdoors, against the backdrop of concrete buildings and misty lakeside docks.
Weber chalks that up to customers not being able to see and touch those products in stores. It was very, very soft. American Apparel does still make some of its clothing in the US.