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Students React to American Apparel Death Spiral

The Los Angeles-based sweatshop-free clothing label American Apparel is at an all-time low; the company has filed for bankruptcy. The company’s troubles began when Dov Charney, founder and former CEO, was accused of sexual harassment towards his female employees, and was forced out of company management.

Charney’s first reported act of harassment was when he propositioned to a female journalist. A year later, numerous sexual harassment lawsuits were filed against him. Charney stated that his conduct was just “entering terms and not sexual harassment.” Despite these and other incidents, he got away with this and remained as the CEO of American Apparel. Along with other incidents, a video of Charney prancing around naked and sexts (Sexual texts) were sent from Charney to female employees. Finally, after leaked videos and texts confirmed Charney’s forward behavior, a few more years of sexual harassment, Charney was replaced by Paula Schneider as American Apparel’s CEO.

The company has lost over $340 million in the past five years, with $45 million lost this year. According to The New York Times, “American Apparel’s own bankruptcy had become inevitable and its sales fell 17 percent in the second quarter compared with last year.”

Sequoyah students’ reactions have been mixed. Some Junior High students think that American Apparel’s clothing is too expensive. Most girls at Sequoyah would rather buy a skirt from Forever 21 for $12, even one possibly made in a sweatshop, than a $40 sweatshop-free skirt from American Apparel. Solaar Kirk-Dacker, Junior High, said, “It’s just a little too expensive.”

Many older Sequoyah students have positive things to say about American Apparel. Junior high student Gus Dalzell says that his “mom gets all my shirts there, and I need my shirts.” James Mandavia, Out Back student, said, “I don’t buy my clothes there, but I like that they don’t use sweatshops. I hope they don’t go bankrupt.” Millie King from the Junior High, however, dislikes “American Apparel’s ads. They show women in a bad way and are very provocative. Most men in their ads are fully dressed, [but] the women are dressed very showy.” King believes that it is “good” that they are going bankrupt.

Some students had opinions about Charney’s sexual harassment. Scarlett Ferry, Junior High student, said, “I wouldn’t want to go in there after I found out a guy had been molesting women!” Solaar Kirk Dacker also had some feelings about Charney’s actions, “It draws me away from the store knowing what the former CEO did. At least he’s been fired, so I hope they don’t close.” However, Kirk Dacker and Nomi Kuntz, also from the Junior High, appreciate what Kirk Dacker calls their “cute clothes” and their sweatshop-free ethics. With all of the press American Apparel has been getting, Kuntz speculated that “at least they’ll be a lot of sales!”