Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

American Apparel has skeezed its way into oblivion

Photo: American Apparel

Remember American Apparel? The formerly trendy basics brand had an attention-getting split personality. It prided itself on the benefits and wages of its factory workers but was known for staffing its stores based on looks and style rather than retail experience. (As a result, it was the place to shoplift in the late 2000s.) It became notorious for its faux-bedroom-candid ads while running campaigns in support of immigration amnesty and same-sex marriage. Its profoundly unlikeable self-styled lothario CEO was ousted in a blaze of sexual harassment lawsuits. It was grossly mismanaged, a death spiral of outwardly liberal business practices, prick ego, and hipster sleaze. At one point, it had to pay Woody Allen $5 million for using a still from Annie Hall on a billboard without permission. It is now gone.

The Los Angeles Times reports that the Canadian activewear maker Gildan has purchased the company’s manufacturing equipment and intellectual property for $88 million, effectively putting an end to American Apparel. Its remaining stores will close within 100 days, and its factories in California are already being sold; a textile manufacturer has put in an offer to buy the knitting and dyeing facility, which employs 330 people, for under $250,000. Once upon a time, American Apparel was valued at a billion dollars, though that assessment seems questionable in retrospect. It had not made a profit since 2009. Its t-shirts and underwear were pretty good, though expensive.


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