Struggling hipster clothier American Apparel announced today that it was closing its original retail location, which is in Echo Park.
The move is symbolic of the Los Angeles–based fashion brand's ups and downs. It opened in 2003 as a “turning point” for the company, which sought to expand its T-shirt–based line and open stores throughout the world, which it eventually did.
The Echo Park store was also a symbol of that community's own turnaround from struggling barrio to gentrifying enclave.
Dov Charney, who founded the firm in 1997, might have overreached in his vision to put his American-made clothing on every hipster around the globe. He had to borrow heavily and now, saddled with debt, the company is shedding stores.
“This store closure is a next step in implementing our previously announced turnaround plan, which includes closing underperforming locations and investing in new stores in promising areas,” the company said in a statement sent to L.A. Weekly and other outlets.
Charney was fired by his own board one year ago amid allegations of sexual impropriety on the job.
He had expanded his firm to include multiple manufacturing sites in Greater L.A. and 246 retail stores in 20 countries. American Apparel's mostly Latino garment workers have praised Charney for embracing an immigrant workforce and for paying greater than minimum wage.
In April the company began laying off workers.
Then, citing losses of more than $300 million in five years, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October.
“This restructuring will enable American Apparel to become a stronger, more vibrant company,” CEO Paula Schneider said at the time.
She also reiterated that the action would allow the company to “invest in new stores.”
Charney has been decrying the firm's moves and has vowed to retake his job and his company.
“The company is not managing a turnaround,” he told us in spring. “It is managing a severe decline in sales.”