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

What About Those “Off Brand” Customers?

YMO: Finally, I wanted to ask about customers who wear large sizes. Jezebel noticed that not all of your merchandise is available past a size Medium. {Jezebel} Are Large customers “off brand”?

DC: No. That’s a misleading statement. We support people in a variety of shapes and sizes. Our men’s line in particular has been geared towards smaller men, because when I’d go shopping I couldn’t find anything for my body type. The Gap and many American retailers focus on the 175-pound male. We service the 145-pound male, but we have larger sizes too.

We sell probably 5 million garments – about 10% of our production in size XL or above. But we also have a very small store and [our production facilities] were invaded by Homeland Security. We’ve hired 1000 people in the last 6 weeks, but we haven’t had the production capacity for a full range of sizes in all of our products.

YMO: Just out of curiosity, is there really such a big difference in fabric costs for a size L versus a size S?

DC: The cost of a larger size isn’t just the cost of fabric, but the cost of it not selling. When I look at our inventory of unsold items, a lot of times it’s the size L that’s left over. There could be any number of reasons for that. Is it because we alienated them? Is it because the large didn’t capture the market? Is it because that style isn’t designed for someone 5’11” and 200lbs? Should we represent the style in a different setting?

Online we get crazy with big sizes, but we don’t offer them in the store. And I had a woman who was irate with me because we don’t offer more plus sizes clothes. I hired her to work on the plus size section of the site.

We’re hiring web developers, we’re hiring product managers, because even just creating a plus size section for the site is a project that can take 6 months. But I want to be in that market.

This is a company that started with me selling t-shirts locally in Montreal, and I’ve been growing this thing and I’m exhausted. I’m getting punched in the face for the slightest mistake, but it’s going to be fun and we’re going to do the great things.

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