Friday, April 27, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
If you don't know that this is Dov Charney then you probably haven't been a follower of what's hot and what's not in fashion.
Dov Charney is the creative, marketing pioneer that started American Apparel. Apparently he grew up in Canada but, always loved garments made in the USA so he decided to actually make garments in the USA. Since it's inception in 2003 American Apparel has had a meteoric success, due in no small part to the style and quality of it's garments and the company's social consciousness- meaning that Dov Charney is enriching his employees life as he gets rich.
I didn't know what to expect when I booked the tour of the American Apparel factory in LA. Aside from being successful, the company is also known for being a little controversial. The first thing you see at the seven story former railroad warehouse is a " Legalize LA " proclamation. I thought legalize marijuana? gay marriage? but, obviously it was legalize illegal aliens ( a large number of American Apparel employees, I think about 1,600 were deported by INS not too long ago )
But, our little group carried on and began a tour of a most amazing factory guided by Alex who answered our endless questions and enjoyed our enthusiasm.
To be honest, for me it felt a little bit like being Charlie and getting to enter the Chocolate Factory.
As we exited the huge industrial elevator at the seventh floor it was immediately obvious this place makes A LOT of garments. The sheer volume was only slightly more amazing than the efficiency of the operation.
This sign was everywhere and it is a real philosophy. Less waste means more $$ and if a hairband can be made out of remaining fabric from cutting out t-shirts they go for it. For awhile a purse was even made out of actual scraps of fabric sewn together.
The garments are made and shipped literally the same day. As soon as the boxes are full they are labeled and whisked away via conveyor belts to the shipping building adjacent to the factory.
The building, the concept, the number of employees, the production, the noise volume is all HUGE!
These are a few of the knitting machines that every household should own. One machine can knit a glove, sock or beanie in minutes.
Everything at American Apparel factory is about speed and efficiency. And then you add in the very real goal of taking care of all the employees needs ( subsidized meals, medical facility, child care, high wages, production bonuses ) and you begin to understand the energy that fuels this business.
The most exciting part of the tour was being allowed to enter the red doors! It is the nucleus that creates the whole American Apparel mystique. There were designs, inspirations, marketing, and more happening behind those red doors and I promised not to tell.
Of course as a shopper the next most exciting thing was the discount given to us to shop in the company store. We left American Apparel on that wet, wet afternoon filled with awe and bags filled with...you guessed it- American Apparel!