How the mighty have fallen. American Apparel filed for its second—and final—bankruptcy at the end of 2016, and stores across the country are in the process of liquidating their stock and closing their doors.
Among the many factors in the company’s decline was store mismanagement. At American Apparel, it was far more important to be attractive than good at your job, and your average store employee made Michael Scott seem like Steve Jobs. We sat down with some former employees to look back on the days when it seemed like American Apparel would last forever. Not the actual clothing, of course. That falls apart if you wash it more than twice.
“I remember the day I was discovered by Dov Charney. I had just gotten rejected by my fourth porn studio for not having breast implants. So I walked out on Sunset Boulevard to cry while cradling my all-natural B cups, cursing God for not having been born into a family of wealth and sophistication that would pay for my enhanced jugs. Daddy—I mean, I would have still been calling him Dov at the time—walked up and asked what was wrong. I told him, bawling, that I wasn’t even good enough for porn. ‘No,’ he said. ‘You’re too good for porn.’ The next day I was managing three American Apparels.”
"People say American Apparel would let people shoplift there, but that’s not true, it was only girls, and only cute girls, so I would say they were actually pretty choosy about who they allowed to shoplift."
"I remember one day Dov came into the store and asked if I had any ideas for new styles we should carry. I said, “Yeah, gold lyrca one-piece bodysuits,” you know, like obviously joking? You can imagine my surprise when we started selling them a month later. I really feel bad for all the sweating Mexican ladies down at the warehouse who actually had to sew them together."
"Was my manager too lax? Yeah, probably. I mean, you’d think if an employee takes the day off for Passover, you’d get suspicious when next week they need the day off for “Muslim Passover” but I’m still happy I got away with it. I’m Catholic, by the way."
"The employee discount rocked. There was this coke dealer in Echo Park who would gave all the girls who worked on the east side 30% off eight balls."
"I visited the factory once, and I was hoping it would be like “The Factory,” you know, like Warhol and all that? And I guess it was kind of like Warhol’s Factory in the sense that everyone was on meth pills. Hey, whatever it took to keep those girls sewing shirts together."
"One thing you have to give Dov credit for is that he really does appreciate women as they are. If you want to be an American Apparel girl, you had better not dye your hair, wax your eyebrows, or make him wear a condom."