American Apparel Is Back -- And A Lot Less American

Its so-called "Sweatshop free" clothes are now largely made in Honduras.
08/09/2017 12:10pm ET

Bodysuit enthusiasts of the world rejoice: After years of controversy, a bankruptcy sale and the closing of its retail stores, American Apparel is back up and running online ― with a few changes.

The notorious brand, whose “Made in Los Angeles” tags defined its ethos, was purchased by Canadian manufacturing company Gildan in January 2017. Its website is now restocked with the wardrobe staples you expect from American Apparel, but those items are no longer all made in America.

In fact, the company’s new production factories are located in Honduras. The brand writes that with the labor expansion, it is pleased to give “more ethical jobs to more people around the world.”

American Apparel
"Globally sourced, ethically made, sweatshop free. That's American Apparel," is a new tagline for what formerly was American apparel. 

Its “Sweatshop Free Stories” section features one interview so far: a conversation with Heber Lopez, an operator at its sewing facility who says working saved him from getting involved with drugs.

Some things, however, are still produced in the states. The site features a “Made in the USA” section, where two identical products are advertised side-by-side ― one made in America, one made globally ― for two different prices.

“You decide,” the section declares.

American Apparel
You can buy an American-produced hoodie for $48, or one made in an international factory for $38. 

The transparency is nice, but it might be worth taking with a grain of salt: Gildan has not exactly been heralded for its ethics when sourcing goods from overseas.

The Washington Post reported in 2014 that the Canadian company was accused of poor working conditions and low pay in its factories, which Gildan denied. Fast Company reported that it unlawfully terminated employees back in 2011. And Canadian publication Rabble reported that at a convention in 2015, a former factory worker stated conditions in Gildan’s factories are “among the worst in Honduras.”

You decide, indeed.

American Apparel Under Dov Charney