Looking for all the world like a 1970s porn star, Mr Chavey is the founder of American Apparel. Based on downtown LA, the label sells cotton basics with a strong ethical message. It advertises its products with a high profile pseudo porno (there’s that word again) campaign featuring Chavey and some of his employees.
Key to the American Apparel ethic is the fact that all of the clothes are made in LA, ‘sweatshop free’. Sounds like a nice idea but not mass market. Think again. American Apparel has over four thousand employees and has stores in 11 national and 9 international retail locations. Stores are currently opening in 12 cities including Paris, Boston, Chicago, Miami, and San Diego
The company’s mission statement is as follows:
American Apparel is a vertically integrated manufacturer, distributor and retailer of T-shirts and related products. All of our garments are cut and sewn at our 800,000-square-foot facility in downtown Los Angeles.
We are trying to rediscover the essence of classic products like the basic T-shirt, once an icon of Western culture and freedom. Our goal is to make garments that people love to wear without having to rely on cheap labor.
Every aspect of the production of our garments, from the knitting of the fabric to the photography of the product, is done in-house. By consolidating this entire process, we are able to pursue efficiencies that other companies cannot because of their overreliance on outsourcing.
Our downtown Los Angeles factory, now considered the largest sewn-products facility in the United States, is a design lab where creative ideas, efficient manufacturing techniques, and concepts for designing and selling T-shirts are developed and put to the test. The challenge for companies like American Apparel is to establish new ways of doing business that are efficient and profitable without exploiting workers.
While apparel is a universal necessity that transcends almost all cultural and socioeconomic boundaries, most garments are made in exploitative settings. We hope to break this paradigm.