American Apparel Could Lose Its One Redeeming Quality

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American Apparel could lose the one thing that lets us forgive it for usually being so icky. In an L.A. Times article, Dov Charney conceded the company might have to move its manufacturing operations overseas. 

The article takes a look at the company's downtown L.A. factory, and the process that goes into making the company's trademark cotton T-shirts. The process they use to make a T-shirt is the same way a car is made: one person sews on a sleeve, passes it down to the next person, they hem something, pass it down, etc., until the shirt hits a quality control supervisor and is prepared for delivery. There's a medial clinic and American Apparel-branded masseuses on site. Conditions are actually pretty good, and the workers are paid well. Around 4,500 people work at the factory. 

It's the one thing American Apparel does right, but the company is still losing money. They've posted nine straight quarterly losses. Dov Charney, the company's controversial chief executive, admitted that the company might move their manufacturing operations elsewhere:

"I want to prove myself," he said, "and I want to prove 'made in America' is a smart business."

Charney conceded that the company's finances could eventually push it to start making some products overseas.

"To say that I'm never going to import from overseas would be unreasonable," he said during an interview at his colorful factory office strewn with new designs being tested for fit. "At this time our business concept is to make everything here. But I wouldn't rule anything out."

Charney and chief manufacturing officer Marty Bailey spend the rest of the article trying to convince us that the "made in America" model is sustainable, and the company's on the verge of a turnaround. It's a shame, really, because the "made in America" part of American Apparel can sometimes help us get past the gross stuff Dov Charney normally does. Maybe they'd have an easier time landing in the black if Dov would stop racking up sexual assault lawsuits.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.