American Apparel Is Still Alive, But They Don’t Make Much in America Anymore


American Apparel

For several years, American Apparel was the clothing retailer. Every hipster, scenester, and “cool dad” owned at least one shirt from the Los Angeles-based company. Their clothing didn’t look particularly special; it often consisted of plain, solid colors and few (if any) logos. Yet their items were affordable, stylish, and made in the United States by well-compensated workers.

The company had their fair share of problems. They were founded and managed by Dov Charney, a total creep whose sexually deviant exploits are well documented. After Charney was no longer with American Apparel, the company failed to stay afloat due to a tarnished image and no longer being cool. There was also the issue of a declining retail market.

After filing a few bankruptcies and changing executives, American Apparel sold themselves to Gildan, a Canadian apparel company. Unlike American Apparel, Gildan makes clothes all over the world, including factories that use sweatshop labor. According to a recent report, American Apparel clothes will soon be manufactured in these locations, a break in policy for the once-political company.

American Apparel? More like Honduran and Nicaraguan Apparel.

Gildan owns the American Apparel brand and can do whatever they want with it. While the image of the brand would benefit greatly from manufacturing clothes in America (duh), Gildan sees that as a costly way of doing business. So, the company will use Honduran and Nicaraguan factories to make American Apparel clothes.

Aside from making American Apparel items outside America, workers in the two aforementioned countries are not privy to the same fair wages, treatment, and other benefits American workers receive. In fact, Gildan workers in Honduras have complained about the company’s crap pay and harsh treatment. This makes the “Made in the USA – Sweatshop Free” banner on the American Apparel website rather sad.

Will all American Apparel items be made overseas?

Not exactly. According to Gildan, the company signed contracts with California manufacturers to produce certain items for the American Apparel brand. This means that American Apparel will eventually have some products labeled as Made in America, but they will only be a small percentage of all AA products manufacturer. Many clothing brands and retailers have a separate “Made in America” line consisting of products only made stateside. These products, however, usually cost more than items made internationally, and are a far different approach than making all products in America.

Can I go to an American Apparel store and buy these items now?

American Apparel stores are all closing right now. The ones that are still open are selling American-made merchandise at a steep discount before they close, too. The items sold were manufactured by the company’s now-closed California plant, making them leftover stock that Gildan wants to liquidate.

When Gildan starts selling American Apparel clothes, they’ll do so through other stores, as all AA stores will close by then. Gildan will also relaunch the brand’s online store, which is currently closed.

Can I invest in American Apparel?

The company used to be publicly traded on the stock market, though they were delisted after repeated losses. Gildan, the new owner of the brand, is a publicly traded company on the New York and Toronto Stock Exchanges ($GIL). It’s worth noting that American Apparel is one of many brands owned by Gildan, some of which are much more popular worldwide.

If you think Gildan’s acquisition of American Apparel will help the clothing company’s stock in the long run, be sure to do your research before you decide to invest. If you feel uncomfortable with an “American” company selling clothes made in awful sweatshops, you might want to invest elsewhere.


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