Birthplace: Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Business, Fashion Designer
Executive summary: Founder of American Apparel
Dov Charney got his start in fashion while still in high school, buying up t-shirts in the U.S., carrying them across the Canadian border while on school breaks, and then silk-screening and hustling them in his native Montreal. He dropped out of Tufts after his junior year and moved to Columbia, SC, forming clothing company American Heavy in 1989. Outsourcing of clothing manufacturing jobs sent that company into bankruptcy in 1996, but two years later Charney relocated to Los Angeles and reformed as American Apparel. The key to his new business was vertical integration, housing the design, manufacture, and marketing of clothes under one roof, a seven-story pink warehouse in downtown L.A. In 2004, he opened the first American Apparel retail store; two years later there were more than a hundred stores worldwide. American Apparel is the nation's third-largest manufacturer of underpants and cotton shirts, after Hanes and Fruit of the Loom.
American Apparel's ad campaign features polaroids of skimpy, everyday-looking models, often employees photographed by Charney himself. As C.E.O., he fostered a corporate culture which permitted him to walk around in his underpants, and Charney made no secret of dating his employees. He was thrice accused of sexual harassment by former employees, though two of those charges were later dropped. In 2004, Jane magazine reporter Claudine Ko spent a month tailing him for a personal profile. In between factory tours and interviews, she witnessed Charney getting a blowjob from his girlfriend, as well as eight casual masturbation sessions -- though he was sure to ask the reporter's permission each time and did not allow his relief to interrupt the interview taking place. At the end, Ko reflected positively on the experience, painting Charney as less of a lech and more of a candid gallant.
American Apparel went public in 2006, but come the recession of the late 2000s, investors fled, and the stock price dropped to under a dollar. After years of slumping performance, Charney was ousted as head of American Apparel and removed from the board in June 2014, and fired in December 2014. His sexual misconduct was at the center of the ouster: Charney had been sued for sexual harassment three years earlier. He later learned that an employee intended to post naked photographs of his accuser online, and did nothing to stop it.
Father: Maurice Charney (architect)
Mother: Sylvia Safdie (painter)
High School: Choate Rosemary Hall
University: Tufts University (drop-out)
American Apparel Founder and CEO (1998-2014)
American Heavy Founder and CEO (1989-96)
Member of the Board of American Apparel (as Chairman, 1998-2014)
Unlicensed Sale of Merchandise Montreal, Canada 7-Jul-1987
Defamation Sued, 2011
Sexual Harassment Sued, 2011
Risk Factors: Smoking
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