2017 Newsmaker: A New Clothing Chapter for Dov Charney, American Apparel Founder

Irreverent Los Angeles clothing manufacturer Dov Charney picked up this year right where he was decades ago.

After being fired in 2014 from American Apparel—the company he founded in Los Angeles in the late 1990s—he tried to buy the faltering business out of bankruptcy.

When that failed, he went on to Plan B. This year, he revved up a new operation, called Los Angeles Apparel. It follows the same business model as American Apparel—making basic clothing in Los Angeles using workers who earn a decent wage.

In a 100,000-square-foot building in South-Central Los Angeles, some 350 garment workers are churning out basic blank T-shirts, sweatshirts, cotton bodysuits and swimsuits sold to screen printers, the wholesale industry and to consumers via the Los Angeles Apparel website.

Earlier this year, Charney inked an exclusive distribution partnership with TSC Apparel, a Cincinnati T-shirt distributor that sells to wholesalers and concert promoters.

For Bob Winget, president of TSC Apparel, it was like déjà vu. He was one of the first companies to distribute American Apparel when it was a new line known for being completely manufactured in Los Angeles at a time when T-shirt makers were going to China and other Asian countries to make goods at rock-bottom prices.

“We were one of the original distributors of American Apparel,” Winget said. “We dealt with that company for 20 years, and we had a lot of success with them.”

When Los Angeles Apparel opened, TSC Apparel didn’t hesitate to be part of the new enterprise.

Much of the equipment inside the Los Angeles Apparel factory was purchased from Charney’s old American Apparel factory and many of the workers came from American Apparel, too.

In his new venture, Charney said, he isn’t doing anything differently than when he started American Apparel. “I am going to do what I have always done, which is run the show off the seat of my pants,” he told a Los Angeles audience earlier this year.

Charney’s goal is to eventually employ 1,000 workers and to change the world, one T-shirt at a time.