Canadian Dov Charney immigrated to the United States in 1989 and began experimenting with screen-printing while he attended boarding school. Later, while selling shirts wholesale out of his dorm at Tufts University, Charney coined the name American Apparel for his business. By 1997, Charney had established a relatively robust customer base, so he moved to Los Angeles and set up permanent headquarters for American Apparel there. Almost immediately, the company became known for providing decent wages for all employees. Charney also spoke out passionately against sweatshop labor. The brand made headlines by becoming one of the few wholesalers to export "Made in the USA" clothing internationally. It also entered the retail market by opening stores in major markets across the country.
American Apparel went through some tumultuous times during the late 2000s and early 2010s. Government inspections discovered thousands of unauthorized workers who had to be terminated. Charney also faced legal troubles of his own and was ousted from the company in 2014. Recently, American Apparel entered a new phase by appointing industry vet Paula Schneider as CEO. Today, the company operates about 250 stores in more than 20 countries. Its factory in Downtown L.A. makes more than 1 million garments per week for wholesale and retail sale. American Apparel is committed to ethical manufacturing practices and environmental sustainability, which drive its operations.
The garments from American Apparel are known for their relatively basic styles, and they are available for both kids and adults. Clothes for babies include t-shirts, sweatshirts, cardigans, tanks, leggings, thermals, one-pieces, rompers, and dresses. You can also find accessories like bibs and beanies for very little ones. The brand differentiates between kids (sizes from 2-6 years) and youth (sizes from 8-12 years), and it makes clothes and accessories that are appropriate for each age group. In addition to many wardrobe staples like short- and long-sleeves tees, you can also find pullovers, hoodies, and tanks. Bottoms include slacks, sweats, leggings, skirts, and shorts. One-piece options include dresses, jumpsuits, leotards, and swimwear. The brand also makes kids' accessories like scarves, hair bows, hats, and jewelry.
Women's apparel includes many of the same basics as those for kids, but you can also find more offbeat garments in categories like rompers, bodysuits, and leotards. Materials like denim are used for both tops and bottoms, and jeans are almost exclusively tight and skinny. Crop tops are among the most popular women's shirts, and they are available in several different styles and colors. The brand has extensive collections of lingerie and hosiery. Shoes from the manufacturer include heels, boots, sandals, and flats. You can also find accessories like purses, watches, eyewear, hats, scarves, suspenders, belts, umbrellas, and more.
American Apparel products can essentially be divided into two distinct and independent categories. The brand's basics are acclaimed across the globe. T-shirts and similar products are soft, comfortable, and flattering, and they can be appreciated by practically anyone. The other category is more fashion-oriented and fits into a much smaller niche. These clothes are offbeat and trendy, and they especially appeal to people who identify themselves as hipsters or bohemians. American Apparel freely admits that its products are a little pricier than other brands because clothes are made in America and the company has higher overhead costs. Often, these prices can be offset by buying wholesale or opting to shop secondhand. We give American Apparel 4 stars out of 5.
- Established 1989
- Basic apparel and offbeat trends
- Sold at:
- American Apparel stores and online
- Types of items:
- T-shirts, sweatshirts, tanks, hoodies, cardigans, leggings, jeans, loungewear, leotards, crop tops, activewear, bodysuits, rompers, dresses, skirts, shorts, hosiery, lingerie, hats, scarves, gloves, bags, jewelry, shoes, accessories