Dov Charney Answers Our Questions on Hiring, Gawker and Why Larger Sizes Seem to be Disappearing at American Apparel

The Business Effects

YMO: But do you think the heavy focus on style over previous experience, skill or ability for employees has contributed in any way
to your quarterly same-store losses?

DC: I think that the issue of the sales – many retailers are having problems with same store sales. For every two stores who are showing gains, there are 50 that are still having a tough time. There’s a major economic meltdown in Europe that was a delayed reaction to the meltdown here.

Plus, young people are out of work, and we have a young customer. These are the people we sell to and if they don’t have jobs they won’t be shopping like they did last year.

And while 7% is a big deal to stakeholders, if you sold $100 worth of shirts last year and you sell $93 worth of shirts this year… I wouldn’t be in a panic. I’m not crying over that. I think again because American Apparel is a lightning rod for media attention it becomes something bigger than what it is.

YMO: But you don’t think hiring has played any role?

DC: We had an intervention by Homeland Security that caused us to lose 2500 workers. As far as our reputation I don’t think the immigration matter hurt us, actually I think it could have helped us.  Homeland Security didn’t find any wrongdoing on our part. But Obama has failed Latino people because he made a promise that he would end the apartheid conditions for Latino workers who’ve worked here [in the United States] for 10-15 years.

But for a while, we couldn’t make the sophisticated garments we wanted to make and respond as quickly to trends and changes. Things like button down shirts, that take more skill than a basic t-shirt. We’re bringing in new people, but there’s a learning curve. We’re still hiring more than 1000 people right now.

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