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Autumn 2004

It's true: some people are just naturally sexy. And Dov Charney, the Montreal native behind American Apparel, is good at finding them for his company's ads. The 35-year-old powerhouse of a senior partner is an anomaly in the apparel business, and not just because he's out on the street looking for the right models. He does everything from designing to overseeing the production of the super-soft t-shirts, boy briefs and bra-tops that American Apparel is famous for. Proudly "made in America", everything-from knitting the fabric to shooting the sexy product ads-is done in the 800,000 square-foot facility in downtown Los Angeles, where 2000 workers, mostly Latinos, produce up to100,000 t-shirts a day. But a typical factory, it's not: employees receive everything from health insurance, immigration support, and subsidized bus passes to free bicycle rentals, English lessons, yoga classes and internet use. And with a starting wage of $12.50 an hour, you can bet they are never short of employees.

While the sweat-shop free" ethic is noble in a country where 83% of clothing is imported, Dov never denies being a capitalist. He expects to earn 160 million this year, up from an already impressive 80 million in 2003, making American Apparel one of the top earners in the business. But the real key to success is more than a savvy business sense and happy workers: American Apparel makes a damn good product. It's soft and comfortable. It comes in eye-catching colors. It's well-cut and sexy. What else could you ask for? Well, maybe just to be in one of those ads.

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