When your ad campaigns call to mind the'70s soft porn styling of a Terry Richardson shoot (and often cause as much consternation) and your founder and CEO is ousted due to several sexual harassment cases, it takes a lot to make new news headline. But famed hipster brand American Apparel did just that early yesterday morning, after mounting debt caused it to file for bankruptcy protection. With an estimated US$300 million in debt (WWD), the fashion brand hopes the bankruptcy claim can be reversed in three months after sufficient financial restructuring.
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The ailing fashion brand is said to have suffered the curse of expanding too quickly and not updating stock regularly enough. While still a strong brand, with impressive awareness and a wide customer base, its made-in-America manufacturing approach may impress customers, but drives costs up. And then, there's that pesky problem of its founder, Dov Charney, who's still trying to regain control over the company he founded in 1989. Fired in December last year, after many un-PC and NSFW indiscretions, Charney is said to still be trying to wrestle back pole position from current CEO Paula Schneider.
At this stage, we'd say its financial woes are a more pressing case more than anything else. The brand still has relevance in the retail market but possibly just needs to take a different approach to survive in the already crowded fast fashion marketplace. We sure hope it does. After all, if it goes, where are hipsters going to shop for lycra crop tops, high-waisted shorts and stretchy leggings?