BUSINESS OF FASHION: AMERICAN APPAREL’S SECRET WEAPON IS A FEMALE CEO
Fraught with scandal over late CEO Dov Charney’s prurient tenure, American Apparel is staging a redemption with positive new leadership: Paula Schneider. Charney’s abrupt dismissal last week from the retailer he founded arrived after extensive allegations and lawsuits of the executive’s sexual misconduct and self-described “dirty guy” tendencies. Compounding the strain on the brand — known for its explicit, objectifying advertising — were declining sales. But incoming CEO Paula Schneider has a track record and public image American Apparel hopes will restore it to consumers’ good graces.
Schneider is, according to a report in Forbes, Charney’s “polar opposite” in everything from gender equality to business prowess. American Apparel’s former CEO is better known for mannequins with pubic wigs and a recent lawsuit alleging sexual coercion with a 20-year-old employee. At the same time, Schneider was running Warnaco, the world’s largest swimsuit manufacturer, and was a 2010 winner of the National Organization of Women’s Business Owners Inspiration Award.
Cleaning up American Apparel could be as easy as connecting customers to a pro-woman association with the brand.
“This company has a woman problem,” said a source to Forbes. “There are plenty of women who work there, but the core customer is a 20- to 35- year old woman with some disposable income, and to them, [Charney’s misoygny] is worse than buying from somewhere using sweatshop labor.”
Online sales of American Apparel are at 15%, but should be around 30%, said the source.
Image via American Apparel/Thumbnail via William Murphy, Wikimedia Commons