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American Apparel: A Timeline

From the early beginnings in the late '80s through the Gildan acquisition in 2017, a look at American Apparel through the years:

1989/90: While an undergrad at Tufts University in Massachusetts, Canadian Dov Charney begins a T-shirt venture that will grow into American Apparel.


1997: After operating in South Carolina and learning from apparel industry veterans there for a time, Charney relocates to Los Angeles. Charney later partners with Sam Kim and Sang Ho Lim, both of whom eventually sell their stakes in the company.


2000: American Apparel moves into the downtown Los Angeles location that is to serve as its manufacturing center and company headquarters for years to come.


2003: American Apparel opens its first retail stores, with locations in LA, Montreal and New York. In the coming years, retail locations proliferate globally.


2005: Inc. ranks American Apparel at 218 on its list of the 500 fastest-growing private companies in the nation on the strength of a reported 525% three-year growth trend and $127.9 million in reported 2004 revenue.


2005: Several former employees sue Charney for sexual harassment – charges he then says are false. In the years ahead, Charney will be the subject of additional suits and accusations related to alleged sexual misconduct.


2006: American Apparel agrees to a deal with Endeavor Acquisition Corp. that effectively allows the clothing maker to list shares on a stock exchange without doing a public offering.


2009: American Apparel receives an $80-million infusion from British investment firm Lion Capital to pay off debt. Also, after a government inspection reveals that 1,600 of its workers do not appear to be authorized to work in the U.S., American Apparel terminates about 1,500 employees.


2011: Following an $86 million loss in 2010, a group of Canadian investors agrees to provide up to $45 million to American Apparel, reportedly to help avoid bankruptcy.


2012: Net sales rise a reported 13% over 2011. In the North American promo products market in particular, revenue increases 7.3% to nearly $97 million. Yet, the company reports a net loss for the year of $37.3 million.


2013: American Apparel refinances secured debt in an effort to gain greater financial strength. Net losses increase.


June 2014: American Apparel’s board removes Charney as CEO. Chief Financial Officer John Luttrell is named as interim CEO.


Sept. 2014: Luttrell resigns. Scott Brubaker becomes interim CEO.


Dec. 2014: American Apparel fires Charney, who had been appointed as a company consultant. Paula Schneider is named CEO.


Oct. 2015: American Apparel files for bankruptcy, listing $199.3 million in assets and $397.6 million in debt. The NYSE suspends trading of the company’s stock and begins the process of delisting AA.


Autumn 2016: Schneider resigns as CEO. Chelsea Grayson, American Apparel’s general counsel and chief administrative officer, takes over the chief executive post.


Nov. 2016: American Apparel files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and enters into a proposed agreement to be acquired by Gildan Activewear for $66 million.


Jan. 2017: Gildan wins a bankruptcy auction for American Apparel after raising its bid to $88 million.


Feb. 2017: Gildan completes the $88 million acquisition of American Apparel’s intellectual property rights, some wholesale merchandise and some manufacturing equipment. Gildan plans to make the brand a leader again in fashion basics.