When news broke that long-struggling clothing manufacturer American Apparel had been sold, it was a safe assumption that their business would face big changes — changes that will shutter the LA-based company's 110 retail stores, including the three that remain in San Francisco. The big question, as of Tuesday, is when that closure will occur.
As previously reported by our parent site, Gothamist, the 27-year-old company had been marching toward its demise for quite some time, following a high-profile split with its notoriously vile founder and multiple bankruptcies. Sold last week to Canadian retailer Gildan for a reported $88 million, the new owner says that they plan to close the company's factories and headquarters in Los Angeles, and are expected to move their manufacturing operation outside the US, removing the last reason people who make purchasing decisions based on where things are made will have to buy their goods.
Gildan also announced that they will be closing all of AA's retail locations, three of which are in SF: One is in Union Square at 363 Grant Avenue, another's in the Upper Haight at 1615 Haight Street, and the third is in Cow Hollow at 2174 Union Street. According to Hoodline, "No dates for the closures have been disclosed, and managers at both the Grant Avenue and Union Street locations said they were instructed not to speak to the press about the company's future plans," but "clothes were flying off the shelves of the two-story Union Square store, which was offering deep discounts of 40 to 70 percent on its tees, jeans, and hoodies."
The restructuring, or whatever you want to call it, by the company's new owners, is expected to cost 3,500 people their jobs, Gothamist reports, as Hoodline notes that a local AA staffer "bemoaned the fact that people don't appreciate non-sweatshop clothing." While I don't want to start an argument with someone who's about to lose their job, I don't know that that's the case — I speak with people every day who are making an effort to keep their dollars local when they can.
And would AA have staggered on as long at they had if people didn't appreciate their commitment to making clothing in the US? I really don't think so, as Gothamist notes that if you shopped at American Apparel, you did so knowing you'd drop "a little more on cotton T-shirts than you might elsewhere, but you knew your clothes weren't made by exploited children halfway around the world."
If you're a person concerned about US-based clothing manufacturing, you still have options — and by purchasing from those companies, you still have the opportunity to demonstrate that you, too "appreciate non-sweatshop clothing." New York-based Royal Apparel has a full line of US-made clothing (I should disclose here that I make and sell t-shirts and exclusively use Royal Apparel, but they didn't give me a damn thing to mention them), and Bella+Canvas has a small line of US-made goods that I suspect they'd expand if enough interest was demonstrated. So, while the AA era is coming to a close (and maybe it should), people who want American-made apparel still do have places to find it, places that (as of publication date) lack CEOs who jack off in front of reporters.