According to the LA Times, beloved US clothing company American Apparel has been sold to Canadian t-shirt makers Gildan in a bankruptcy auction, and will close both its famed Los Angeles factory HQ and all of its US stores by April.
The company, which was founded by Dov Charney back in 1997, although he had been selling t-shirts since his boarding school days in the 1980s, was best known for its socially-progressive campaigns, provocative advertising, and for being one of the largest garment makers in the USA, employing over 3400 labourers.
At the height of their popularity, their colour blocked t-shirts and hoodies marked them out as the uniformer of mid-00s hipsterdom, but recent years had seen flagging sales, thanks in part to underperforming stores. The higher price tags associated with sweatshop free labour had seen them lose ground to fast fashion staples like H&M.
American Apparel had long been dogged by controversy. Firstly, about Charney’s personal behaviour and alleged sexual misconduct (he famously masturbated in front of a reporter, as documented in one 2004 piece), and then by bankruptcy and protests from its largely Latino LA workforce, who feared for their job security once the CEO was given the boot.
As of today, a statement on the brand’s British website says, “American Apparel will no longer maintain an online presence in the UK. We would like to express our gratitude to you for your business.” Back in December, they closed all 13 of their British stores except their North London outpost on Camden High Street.
Speaking on the fate of the brand on Wednesday, Charney said, “This is not a business that should have gone out of business. This business went out of business because of Wall Street malfeasance.”
On Friday, their Global PR Director departed the company and did not leave an email address for press enquiries. Should American Apparel release an official statement, we will update this piece.
Head here to read a brief history of American Apparel.