Dov Charney

Dov Charney Photo

Dov Charney the entrepreneur is a clothing manufacturer, retailer and wholesaler. He started at the age of 20 by founding the company ‘American Apparel’.  He is famous for his simple dressing and an uncommon style of leadership.

Charney was born on 31st January 1969 in Montreal, Canada. He went to a boarding school in Connecticut called the Choate Rosemary Hall and then the St. George’s School of Montreal. He grew up in Montreal’s culture and was very influenced by his Jewish heritage. Charney attended Tufts University but only for a short period of time. He instantly took a liking to the United States and became an enthusiast of its products. From an early age the signs of an independent and entrepreneurial spirit were apparent in Charney. His early business ventures were at his high school where he began to import products of Fruit of the Loom and Hanes to Canada. According to him he imported almost ten thousand t-shirts at one time in a rented truck from U-Haul.

During his time at Tufts, Charney continued his business of importing t-shirts. He soon realized that he wanted to devote all his time to his business so he dropped out in 1990. He took some money from his father and went to South Carolina where he started manufacturing t-shirts. Charney started his own brand which he called ‘American Apparel’ because of his love for America. In 1996 he failed to cover his debt and so filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy law. A year later, he moved to Los Angeles and by 2003 he was the owner of retail stores with more than 1300 employees. He also opened his stores in New York and Montreal. In only 2 years ‘American Apparel’ had revenue of more than $200 million. He now owns over 260 retail stores. In 2006 he decided to sell the company to ‘SPAC’ the special purpose acquisition company to make the company go public. Consequently he became the CEO and President while remaining its biggest shareholder.

In 2004 he became a ‘Young and Ernst Entrepreneur of the Year’. Charney was titled ‘Retailer of the Year’ in the Michael Awards in 2008; an award which was previously given to Oscar de la Renta and Calvin Klein. He was given the title of ‘Man of the Year’ by the Apparel Magazine and the Fashion Industry Guild. In 2008 his brand was named ‘Label of the year’ by ‘The Guardian’. Charney is very passionate about clothing. He gets involved in everything including the advertising and branding of the company. He produced award-winning print campaigns however his TV ads are known to be very provocative. He chooses the models and shoots the ads himself. Charney won the ‘Marketing Excellence Award’ during the LA Fashion Awards in 2005.

Charney has been involved in many sexual harassment lawsuits out of which many have been dismissed, still awaiting decision or not proven. Charney on the other hand completely denies any misconduct and claims he is innocent. He is quite a controversial figure considering all the sexual harassment cases but nonetheless his achievements as a businessman cannot be denied.