Never a stranger to controversy, Dov Charney is in the hot seat again after having finally admitted that American Apparel’s long-held “Made in America” practices may not be as steadfast a policy as everyone had thought.
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, the label’s head honcho was adamant that American Apparel would keep creating its products in California… for now, at least.
“To say that I’m never going to import from overseas would be unreasonable,” he told the L.A. Times. “At this time our business concept is to make everything here. But I wouldn’t rule anything out.”
Despite the flurry of sexual harassment cases, wrongful-termination suits and dwindling financial numbers, American Apparel’s one redeeming quality was always the fact that its products were made at home.
The company’s also done a good job of providing higher wages for their production team. American Apparel’s unique team-based production system, which guarantees an hourly $8 wage on top of a “piece rate” wage for each completed garment, gives higher wages to immigrants who would otherwise only qualify for low-wage employment.
The catch is that the higher wages, on-site masseuses, and higher quality raw materials spell out a higher price tag for a cotton T than you’d find at one of its competitors, like Target.
The real question is: are customers going to continue to pay more for a product that’s “Made in America”? In other words, do they even care, when “Made in America” is essential to a brand’s identity?
“When it comes to fashion items, that doesn’t necessarily resonate with shoppers,” Anthony Dukes, a business professor at the University of Southern California, told the L.A. Times. “There’s not a lot of evidence to suggest that ‘made in America’ is a great model.”
Doug Barry: “Charney… left the door to cheap, overseas labor open enough to slide his unctuous body through should busines (sic) fail to improve.” [Jezebel]
Rani Sheen, copy and health editor: “Remember when the name American Apparel mostly brought associations with sweatshop-free labour and a commitment to local manufacturing? How times have changed. That message has been overshadowed by Dov Charney’s sleazy interview antics and T&AAA campaigns—maybe a renewed focus on it‚ as opposed to forgetting it entirely, would be just the thing to resurrect the brand.”
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