What’s Next for American Apparel

American Apparel is not only still alive – it’s gearing up to be an industry leader again. Gildan Activewear (asi/56842) is keen to communicate that message to the promotional products industry.

Even so, VP of Corporate Marketing/Communications Garry Bell admits 2017 will be a transition year as Gildan works to overcome a variety of challenges, such as inventory levels that were inherited when it bought American Apparel out of bankruptcy. “2018 is when you’re really going to see the added value that Gildan will bring to the brand,” he says.

Still, Bell notes that American Apparel items are currently for sale to distributors, while adding that there are other exciting things already happening. Gildan has secured U.S-based contractors to make fabrics and sew garments for key American Apparel styles offered to the wholesale market. In addition, Gildan is leveraging its global manufacturing capabilities to produce certain American Apparel styles abroad, creating less expensive offerings it believes will be able to compete better for the business of price-conscious end-buyers.

“We expect Made-in-the-USA styles to continue to represent a significant percentage of total sales,” says Bell. Distributors can buy American Apparel through authorized dealers like TSC Apparel (asi/90518) and, where more information about purchasing and inventory is available.

Additionally, Gildan has opened a Los Angeles-based merchandising and marketing office with former American Apparel employees to “ensure we keep the core DNA of the brand from a design, marketing and creative point of view,” says Bell.

Still, Gildan could have some convincing to do in the promo products industry. Given the turmoil of recent years and the change in ownership, some distributors say they’re taking a wait-and-see approach to the new American Apparel. “As a distributor, I need to know I can rely on them and I’m not there quite yet,” says Josh Ebrahemi, partner at Jack Nadel International (asi/279600).

Gildan aims to restore the faith. “We believe,” Bell says, “that with our manufacturing and operational expertise we can amplify American Apparel’s strengths and help the brand retake its leadership position as a fashion basics innovator.”