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American Apparel owner Dov Charney moves and speaks at warp speed, his frenetic brain zipping in a million directions at once. "I appreciate the form of the perfect T-shirt, just like the form of the perfect lightbulb or the perfect shoelace or the perfect piece of bread — it doesn't always have to have jam on it," he declares. Charney founded the fast-growing sportswear company in 1999 in downtown Los Angeles.
Born in Montreal, the designer likes his products to be plain and generic. He admires the unadulterated T-shirt, with no logs, insignias or silkscreen images. "I don't like printed T-shirts," the 35-year-old admits. "I appreciate the art they put on them, but I choose not to define myself like that." He mentions that he wears his own T's for a two full years "to have the true experience of what it's like to own an American Apparel shirt and grow with it. No T-shirts are alike. There's always a rip or a hole that becomes a part of your personality."
Part of the appeal of American Apparel is that the clothes are all manufactured in the U.S. and not produced in sweatshops. But don't call Charney a patriot. 'I don't believe in America. I believe in a new international standard. Who gives a shit where your passport is from?" The retailer currently has four outposts in Los Angeles and New York City, and recently opened shop in Montreal. He singles out members of the "youth movement" as the typical American Apparel customer. "I think we're in the dawn of a civil rights revolution, a sexual revolution, a design revolution, a financial revolution. Young people are going to transform the world up and fucking down!"
Made in Downtown LA—Vertically Integrated Manufacturing