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Goodbye Dov Charney, And Thanks For All The Bodysuits

A few days ago, Jezebel posted "American Apparel’s Bankruptcy Is Inevitable", a piece I find fault with, but ultimately did not disagree with.  Their auditing firm, Deloitte & Touche, recently quit, citing "material weaknesses in [American Apparel's] internal control over … Read More

By / August 3, 2010

A few days ago, Jezebel posted "American Apparel’s Bankruptcy Is Inevitable", a piece I find fault with, but ultimately did not disagree with.  Their auditing firm, Deloitte & Touche, recently quit, citing "material weaknesses in [American Apparel's] internal control over financial reporting."  To make matters worse, sales numbers have been in consistent decline, and a glut of new stores are having trouble keeping their doors open and their cash registers full.  Maybe it is the economy, sure, but it’s probably more the fault of Dov Charney, the company’s founder, CEO, and notorious creep.  Instead of tending to his business, he spent his years at AA hiring teenage managers more proficient at not wearing a bra than running his stores.  The cloud of controversy that surrounds Dov is hard to avoid; he’s been the target of several sexual harassment lawsuits, none of which have actually been proven.  While he legally maintains innocence, the public has pretty much decided to hate Dov Charney.  I know, at least, that I do.  Still, I find the celebrations around the news of American Apparel’s impending bankruptcy shortsighted at best, and definitely premature.  Bankruptcy rarely equates to a brand’s complete destruction, and I don’t think AA is an exception.  With a brand equity as valuable as theirs, I have no doubt that a richer, and possibly less sexually perverse investor or firm will step in and take the ailing company off of Dov’s hands. Filene’s Basement filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009, and was quickly approached by retailer Syms, who later bought the company and ensured it’s immediate survival.  The same goes for Crunch Gym, saved by New Evolution Fitness Company in May 2009.  Both have very clearly defined brand identities, at least when considering national commercial outlets.  I’d argue the same for AA, if not more so — their risque advertisements are approaching iconic status, and are constantly parodied by detractors of the brand.  Even so, I wear their merchandise, because their basics are comfortable and I cannot live without my high-waisted black leggings, which is exactly why I think AA isn’t going anywhere.  Maybe, if we’re lucky, we can lose Dov, but keep our favorite comfy t-shirts.  A girl can hope. 

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