American Apparel is a loaded name with many connotations and associations both positive and negative. The negative- a scandal-plagued former CEO, bankruptcies, inconsistently sized garments and advertisements that straddled that fine the line between sexy and overly sexual. The positive- an American-made clothing company that pays workers fair wages and is “sweatshop-free.” In January, American Apparel closed its doors and shipped their equipment to Gildian, a Canadian apparel company who bought them for a cool $88 million dollars. We thought we saw the last of the infamous brand, but looks like someone’s just risen from the dead.
Same Brand, New Updates
The American Apparel website just re-launched a little over a week ago and bears the flashing title, “The Icons Are Back.” The banner showcases previous bestsellers that are now for sale. So if there are all the same styles, fonts and overall aesthetic… what changed? Silvia Mazzuchellli, American Apparel’s VP of direct to consumer said “We’re actually very excited when we see people saying, ‘Oh, American Apparel is back and it looks the same;’ for us, that’s a compliment because we never wanted to change it.” What did need to change though was the internal structure of the company.
Gildan went through and hired back what they considered the best of the best of the former American Apparel team. The team works directly with Gildan’s existing network and in doing so they have a more streamlined system than previously. In addition, they pared down their product lines. Silvia Mazzuchellli said that before the company folded they had, “north of 6,000 styles.” This was not good from a business standpoint. Now the focus is on sticking to the bestsellers and will slowly introduce more styles in 2018.
One new caveat of the new American Apparel is that it is no longer made in America. Gildan’s supply chain consists of factories in Central America and Canada, a potential problem for a company who branded themselves as, “Made in downtown Los Angeles.” But, Sabrina Weber, Head of Brand Marketing doesn’t fret. She believes that the lower prices may now entice customers, especially since all of the clothing is still ethically made and “sweatshop free.” Although, there is a “Made in USA shop” where identical styles can be found that are $10 more. Weber and Mazzuchellli are interested to see whether the American Apparel brand relies on that label or not.
It seems that we just saw witnessed the end of an era as the sale with Gildan was finalized and bargain shoppers and hipsters flocked to the closing storefronts. Mourning the loss they grabbed the last Fisherman sweaters before the company could turn out the lights on not just the stores, but the company as a whole. It seems that before they could lock the doors for the last time and put up “retail space for lease” signs, American Apparel announced its revival. Now consumers and the fashion industry look on with anticipation. With a new acquisition, new leaders, new manufacturers and new vision it seems that the more streamlined American Apparel may just have a shot.