American Apparel bankruptcy likely, women’s groups respond

Laura Donovan Contributor
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American Apparel, the “sweatshop free” trendy clothing company whose CEO Dov Charney has recently been accused of sexually abusing several store employees and proudly admitted to calling women “sluts” and the “c” word, has announced it may file for bankruptcy because last year left it with a loss of $86 million.

Business Insider reports that the shop has been suffering financially for a while and that founder Charney’s sex abuse scandals have been in the public eye as of late. American Apparel has been unpopular among women’s groups for quite some time for Charney’s sexual abuse charges and publicizing advertisements of scantily-clad and even topless young models.

Amy Siskind, founder of The New Agenda, told The Daily Caller that Charney’s sexual assault allegations and ads of practically nude women could have contributed to American Apparel’s potential bankruptcy.

“My thought is, sexism sells but we’re not buying it,” Siskind told TheDC. “I think that you’re seeing a lot of backlash now from concerned parents, and certainly in this case there have been a lot of women’s groups who have spoken out and said their attire isn’t entirely inappropriate, the sexualization of girls that they use in their advertising and marketing of their products is totally inappropriate. And, as we suspected, the work environment was also hostile to young women, so we’re not at all surprised to see this company go out of business and we hope their CEO ends up in jail where he belongs.”

Siskind said that the woman who helps make purchases for the organization offered The New Agenda t-shirts from American Apparel.

“I sent her a link about the CEO and some of their advertisements and I know she then stopped ordering from them, there are certainly plenty of different outlets,” Siskind told TheDC. “I think word of mouth really got out and hurt this company, and between that and the CEO’s behavior, which again is very congruous with the rest of the business, obviously this company is going to in the long term go away and this man will be in jail.”

Siskind, a former a Wall Street executive and trader, told TheDC that she doesn’t foresee good things for the business aspect of American Apparel.

“Once these companies have this kind of, especially companies in the retail business, you know, they tend to just go away,” Siskind told TheDC. “Once your brand name is tarnished in the way this brand name has been tarnished, there is just no reason for them to exist, it’s just a very easy business for them to replicate and I don’t suspect you’ll see this business around.”

Megan Williams, executive director of Hardy Girls Healthy Women, agreed that American Apparel’s marketing tactics could have brought the store down.

“American Apparel has a history questionable marketing practices, from their Best Butt Contest that Hardy Girls protested last year, to their tired, pornography-inspired ad campaigns objectifying women and girls to make a buck,” Williams told TheDC. “We see the possibility of American Apparel’s bankruptcy filing as evidence that sexist ad campaigns and questionable business practices don’t pay.”

Nearly two weeks ago, former American Apparel worker Kimbra Lo filed a lawsuit against Charney, claiming he told her to visit his residence and “violently kissed her” once she arrived. The complaint alleges Charney started sending Lo “sexual text messages” in July 2010 and that he called her and mentioned “he was masturbating on the phone while they spoke.”

Earlier in March, former American Apparel sales clerk Irene Morales accused Charney of holding her as his sexual prisoner and saying while she was still a minor that he couldn’t wait for her to reach the age of consent so they could have intercourse. Charney’s lawyer Stuart Slotnick shot down Morales’ case when he said that a series of naked photos of her and e-mails “show she was stalking Mr. Charney and acted inappropriately by offering him sex acts in exchange for material possessions and money.” Regardless of Morales’ credibility, Charney has years of sexual harassment and abuse charges against him.

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Laura Donovan