This week, the Business of Fashion reported a rumor that the company has hired an investment bank to discuss a possible sale. When the publication reached out to Dov Charney, who founded the company in 1989 but was ousted from his role as CEO in December 2014, he said that he would consider buying his former company if the price was right. In January, he unsuccessfully tried to purchase American Apparel for $300 million with the help of investors.
Charney was kicked out of the company by the board for a litany of alleged reasons, including misusing funds and allowing the publication of naked photos of former employees who had sued him for sexual harassment. He was replaced by fashion industry veteran Paula Schneider.
Our Anjali Mullany recently interviewed Schneider for an in-depth feature and described her plans to breathe new life into the brand. Here’s an excerpt about how her team is reimagining the company’s imagery.
. . . Schneider’s marketing team is attempting to tone down American Apparel’s ads without diluting the brand. “All we did is change the gaze from a voyeuristic male gaze to [a] female point of view,” Schneider says. “She should still be sexy, or he should still be hot, but it’s not as sexualized.” Design director of branding Benno Russell (who worked for the company for 11 years until he left in 2014 and was rehired by Schneider’s regime last year) says the distinction between the two points of view is pretty simple. “The male gaze entails that you’re creating an image for male consumption—and if you refute that, the opposite is the female gaze,” he laughs. “It’s crucial you have somebody being photographed who feels empowered and is empowered, versus someone who is more subjugated,” he adds.