American Apparel Has Finally Filed for Bankruptcy

Illustration for article titled American Apparel Has Finally Filed for Bankruptcy

Less than a year after controversial American Apparel CEO and founder Dov Charney was permanently booted from the company on charges of sexual harassment and misuse of company funds, his successor, Paula Schneider, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

According to the New York Times, the retailer’s debt will be reduced through a process called debt-for-equity conversion, in which bondholders exchange their debt for shares in the company. If the filing is approved by the bankruptcy court, this will completely remove the company’s current shareholders—Dov Charney included—in favor of the company’s creditors, all investment firms or hedge funds (most notably the hedge fund Standard General, whose newfound influence on the board of directors following Charney’s ouster caused some employees significant distress).

The beleaguered company has lost over $340 million over the past 5 years, including $45 million just this year. Debts, sales struggles and a stock decline (which accelerated after Charney’s departure), angry workers, and an extremely litigious ex-CEO have made this bankruptcy filing appear all but inevitable, especially after an August announcement that the company had “substantial doubt” it could stay in business for another 12 months.


According to the Times, last week the New York Stock Exchange warned that American Apparel was close to being delisted. Currently, its shares are at just 11 cents. “Our debt load simply wasn’t sustainable. You can’t do a turnaround plan without cash,” CEO Paula Schneider told the Times on Sunday.

Charney has filed a number of lawsuits against American Apparel and Standard General since December 2014, who have responded in turn. Charney has been, depending on who you ask, either a rallying figure or a resentment-stoker amongst the company’s distressed factory workers, whose jobs have become increasingly unstable (and who recently destroyed a piñata likeness of Schneider). Within the terms of this bankruptcy, many of Charney’s lawsuits against the company will be frozen, and American Apparel will effectively erase his remaining shares in the company—likely eliminating any remaining hope Charney and his supporters had of his being returned to power.

The filing will allow the company to keep its L.A. factory and 130 U.S. stores open, shrinking its debt from $311 million to $120 million. No layoffs have been announced yet, and Schneider is expected to stay on as CEO. In a statement on the filing, Schneider said:

“This restructuring will enable American Apparel to become a stronger, more vibrant company. By improving our financial footing, we will be able to refocus our business efforts on the execution of our turnaround strategy.”


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Ellie Shechet

An email from American Apparel that just went out to customers:

Hello -

You might have heard a rumor that your favorite purveyor of basics, hoodies, catsuits and booty shorts is going through some changes.

A financial restructuring is taking place and follows a path of people and businesses including 50 Cent, American Airlines, and Bloomingdale’s, that continue to thrive as successful brands. It is business as usual at American Apparel and we are as excited as ever to bring you great fashion basics. Our stores are open, e-Commerce orders will continue to be fulfilled, your gift cards will still be honored, and all of our standard policies regarding returns, exchanges, etc., will remain in effect. There is also no change to Le Club and members will retain their status, points, and benefits.

American Apparel will emerge as a stronger, more vibrant company for the benefit of all of our customers. The restructuring process will provide the Company with the funds it needs to purchase materials for new products, and to continue producing fashion-forward, iconic apparel.

We look forward to continuing to serve you as America’s largest domestic clothing manufacturer, providing Fashionable Basics, Sweatshop Free, and Made in the U.S.A. Stay tuned for updates on our website and at your nearest American Apparel location for what products we will have in store this Halloween.

As always, thank you for your business, support, and loyalty to our brand. Should you have any questions about the restructuring, you can access more information by visiting or by calling the following hotline: 877-940-7795. Please see our company press release for more information.

All the best,

American Apparel Digital & Retail Teams