Last Thursday, Delaware court authorized the sale of the whole material and intellectual property of American Apparel for $ 88 million to the Canadian giant Gildan that specializes in wholesale of low-price clothes. The decision was not a surprise almost for no one: the brand filed for bankruptcy back in 2015, but all the while tried to keep its head above water.
Founded in 1997, AmAp known for its risky advertising campaigns and scandalous reputation of the founder, Dov Charney, will have to close all of its US stores by the end of April 2017.
However, sales began to decrease in comparison with the main American Apparel's competitors - Forever 21 and H&M. "The company is dead," Charny, who was expelled from the brand by the board of directors’ decision because of the scandal related to harassment of the models and staff, said in an interview. Now he runs his own street wear brand named "That's Los Angeles". – "They just use the name here and there. But the spirit has left the body for a long time as it was with Polaroid and Sharper Image."
Scandals pursued American Apparel from the beginning and Charney kind of was proud of their number. As he said: "Any PR is a good PR." But a good PR-specialist is not always a good manager and the brand of expensive clothes for youth has become the failed company with a dubious reputation in the minds of consumers. Over time, pure provocations became non-profitable. Everyone tired of paying too much for basic things you can buy three times cheaper just because they are not made in America.
Social conscious can’t be self-sufficient - it must be based on meticulous commercial calculation. No matter how much you wave the flag of LGBT community time to pay bank debts will come sooner or later.
Charney is not a unique case. In America, especially in California, there is a lot of youth and street wear designers who created their brands in the 90's: from Eric Brunetti's legendary skate brand FUCT to New York's Mishka founded by Mikhail Bortnik. All of them are going through hard times because of the street fashion's rush for unification - either you're wearing a new capsule collection of Supreme miraculously found on Grailed, or nothing. The very concept of unique youth clothes with prints on T-shirts and provocative advertisements seems to be outdated.
In the end, the main American Apparel's failure was exactly what made the brand popular from the start - the principle of "humanism and individualism is more important than commercial success." Consumers prefer cheaper clothes made in the Third World countries than more expensive clothes produced in the US. Almost for 19 years, the brand has been trying to put the employees, many of whom were immigrants from Mexico, above any serious financial strategy. All this will be gone as soon as the brand and its assets will be transferred to Gildan. This week, near 3,000 of American Apparel workers were dismissed and dismissal of the remaining staff is expected the next week. Gildan, who produces its shirts in the Philippines and Vietnam and sell them on the internet and in such hypermarkets as Walmart and Target, will certainly produce T-shirts cheaper and faster, but investments in ethical and humane attitude toward employees are unprofitable for such companies.
Beauty gives way to pragmatism - the motto with which American street fashion came in 2017.