America Apparel & Dov Charney

July 04 2014

I was momentarily shocked when I first read that American Apparel’s board of directors (finally) ousted CEO and founder, Dov Charney. Shocked, but not at all surprised. Or perhaps a bit surprised that it actually happened at all. Dov Charney has been accused of harassment, misconduct, sexual assault, discrimination, and general smarminess for years. The brand was built around the uber-hip attributes he projected, and the success of the brand’s sexy, modern, “too cool to care” image seemed to leave the CEO untouchable.


So, what is leaving him so vulnerable this time? Is the company perhaps becoming aware that the 15-20 year old crowd is like, totally in their mid-20s now, and don’t want to support this kind of behaviour? Or maybe, and more realistically, the board of directors is finally realizing the negative effect that Charney’s actions are having on sales? Reports have noted that the sales numbers significantly drop around a new scandal release. At this point, it may be too risky for company sales and stock to keep him at the helm.

What happens when a CEO‘s brand attributes still align with the company he founded, and yet over time he becomes too much of an albatross, both financially and in terms of public perception of the brand? You got it, folks. He gets kicked to the curb, because in the end, American Apparel will survive just fine without him. Despite this week’s desperate stock grab for power, it may be the moment in which American apparel as a brand is better off disassociated from his persona and shenanigans. After all, they have a finely developed sense of who they are, and will continue to stay relevant unless a new CEO and Creative Director come in to tinker with their brand and design aesthetic.

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