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Hot women, good politics. How does clothing maverick Dov Charney of American Apparel do it?GQ
It is 3:30 in the afternoon and Dov Charney, senior partner of the clothing label American Apparel, is on his cell phone doing what he tends to do a lot of: rant. About globalization (his L.A.-based company, which makes both men's and women's clothes, is proudly "sweatshop-free"), about the depressing state of major-party politics ("Choosing between the Democrats and the Republicans," he says, "is like voting for one shopping mall or the other"), but mostly about women. Which, if you have ever flipped through an American Apparel catalog, you realize is a subject that the 35-year-old Montreal native knows a good deal about. What makes American Apparel's female models so appealing is that most of them are not models. They are girls whom Charney meets at bars, restaurants. trade shows-pretty much anywhere. Over the years, there has been Mika from Ottawa, Marcella from Argentina. Julie from South Carolina, Merrily from Hollywood, and among many others, Suzy from New York, whom Charney has his arm around at the moment. "We're not looking for the hardest piece of ass," says Charney, who launched his company a decade ago in South Carolina. "We're looking for women who are real, who are beautiful."
After he pitches the women on the company and recruits them for a photo shoot (little or no makeup; no big lights), Charney says, about half of them end up on staff at AA. In typical unfiltered candor, he adds that he's gone on to date many of them. "I'm just a desperate fuck at the end of it all," he says with a laugh. "I don't know what to do! My mother wants me to stop." Shifting gears quicker than Dale Earnhardt Jr, Charney can talk about his sexual tastes and sociopolitical trends in one frenetic thought. As he does when discussing catalog cover girl Thida: "I don't like to use the word girlfriend," he says. "But she's my empress. She's everything: She's half Jewish, half Chinese, but grew up in England and was born in Bangkok. She's the new class internacional! A transnational hipster. You know what I'm saying? It's not about the U.S.A. It's not about American black or white, American black-slash-white-that's Abercrombie & Fitch." And Suzy, the one Charney has his arm around right now? He met her a week ago when she walked into one of AA's new shops in downtown Manhattan. She now works for the company.
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