Earlier this week, American Apparel founder Dov Charney got involved in the Ralph Lauren Olympics uniform controversy, telling The New York Post that the Russian Olympics Coordinating Committee had reached out to him in 2011, hoping to manufacture 2014 Winter Games uniforms in the US: “[Russian Olympic team representatives] said they didn’t want anything that was made in China. It’s not just for the uniforms — it’s also the merchandise.”
Charney has a long and proud history of being a pretty shady character, what with the various sexual harassment allegations pitched his way on a regular basis by former American Apparel employees. He's also a kind of marketing genius, adept at making cynical and effective grabs for free publicity with libidinous ad campaigns and by being an unapologetic blowhard in interviews with the press.
By all accounts, American Apparel is a pretty cold-hearted operation, but its LA-based manufacturing sometimes veils the company's less honorable business practices. If you want to feel good about shopping at American Apparel, you can ignore Charney's pervy manner and alleged mistreatment of employees and focus on the "Made in the USA" tags appended to each item of clothing. The recent controversy about overseas manufacturing gave the company an opportunity to play up its commitment to local production and position itself as a moral force in retail. Charney's comments to The Post implied that even the Russians knew better than to shop Made-in-China, and it seemed like a kind of ludicrous send-up of the post-Cold War period: today, America is its own worst enemy.
But when WWD called the Russian Olympic Organizing Committee to fact-check Charney's claims, they came up with a whole lot of nothing. More specifically, they recieved this statement: “The Sochi 2014 Olympic and Paralympic Organizing Committee is not in negotiations with American Apparel for the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. The official outfitter of the Russian team up to 2016 is the company Bosco Sport." There's absolutely no reason that anyone should be surprised to learn that Dov Charney seized an opportunity to outright lie in order to get free publicity and elevate his brand's reputation in the public eye. It's more surprising that any of us believed him, given that his past behavior tends toward the psychopathic.
When WWD pressed him about the Russian committee's denial, the CEO responded, “I don’t know that every senior person there knows everything that’s going on with an inquiry about product.” You know, the most repellant thing about Charney is his total unwillingness to truly own his icky behavior. If once caught, he could just say, "Ha, yeah, lied. Suckers!" he'd just seem like a guy trying to game the system, and it would be totally acceptable. Otherwise, he's just exposing himself as a slimeball.
Owen Beiny / WENN.com