America doesnít need another faceless, institutional apparel company. They need an apparel company that gets it and does it right.
I think I was just born overchargedÖI was such a crazy kid in elementary school I was almost kicked out.
My friends were selling these great bootleg t-shirts in front of the Forum. I was going to prep school in the States at the time and the t-shirts there were a bit different, better for the silk-screening process. So I started buying t-shirts at K-mart and bringing them to Canada in garbage bags on the train.
They took me down to Station 10, which doesnít exist anymore, and after a couple of hours of me yelling, ĎMonsieur, monsieur!í they let me out and gave me back my cash and my shirts. So what did I do? Headed straight for the Cock Ďn Bull to try and unload the rest of them.
I was barley 18. So that was the beginning and I guess because I lost money I felt compelled to keep hustling.
I called up a guy I trust and asked, ĎWho's the best out there at organizing a factory?í He said Marty. So I called him on a Saturday and said, ĎDude, my name's Dov and I need help.í He started Monday; thatís the way I operate.
Itís sickening money, man. We're minting money.
Itís t-shirts that look good, t-shirts that feel good, and t-shirts that are made in a non-exploitative setting.
We designed the rate in such a way that the average person should be able to make $100 a day, thatís our target.
We want to pay more than the prevailing wages in Los Angeles, because we want to have the happiest work force we can have.
I have the highest-paid apparel workers in the world.
What Iím going to prove, and Iím going to embarrass the entire fucking establishment, is that sweatshops are more expensive in the end than vertically integrated manufacturing in Canada or the U.S. You see, those prisons in China are inefficient and the opportunity cost of offshore production is huge, because you canít respond to market demands as quickly.
Look, Iím not that ethical, but you donít have to be the most ethical person to know that slavery was wrong.
What Iím talking about is the exploitation of human potential instead of the exploitation of humanity. Iím saying you donít have to fuck the Third World up the ass, or the shareholders, or the consumers, or the Canadian and American workers, to do business.
Commerce is the key driver toward societal change. If everyone that produces the goods the world consumes starts concerning themselves with sustainable, low-impact practices, the world will change.
If youíre Enron, and everyone is getting fucked up the ass, youíre doing something wrong. Youíre not a good entrepreneur, youíre just a fucking Soprano parasite.
Thereís the relaxed fit generation and then thereís the next generation.
We like sexy at American Apparel.
We donít have branding on the shirts. Itís not a status symbol.
I canít wear any brand on my body - I just freak out. I mean, if Iím with a girl whoís wearing a Christian Dior necklace, I canít even fuck her. And then there are those girls - like every girl I seem to find - who has one those Louis Vuitton bags. Címon, itís fucking false tribalism.
Itís like a sexy girl who keeps telling you sheís sexy. Itís nauseating.
We plan to continue to behave in a contrarian matter. This creative environment is what got us to this point. We certainly arenít going to stop doing it now after we created a highly profitable company.
I think for a designer to be in his underwear when he's designing underwear is quite common. And I'm in my underwear in my office all the time.
I frequently drop my pants to show people my new product.
I've made mistakes. There are bumps in the road to what I'm doing. I should tone down? So I don't get in trouble? It's fascism. You're asking me to succumb to tyranny.
Passion. Thatís it. When you believe in what youíre doing, thatís it.
I think I was a born hustler. I like the hustle. I like selling a product that people love. Itís nice when a girl tries on a bra or a tie-dye t-shirt, and itís, ĎOoh, I love it.í
I started bringing like 5,000, 10,000 t-shirts at a time, on a U-Haul truck in the summer, and I developed a kind of importing business, from the United States to Canada. Thatís why itís called American Apparel.
I knew I could do it differently, and I knew I could turn it around. And I knew there was a solution and there was no way, that kind of passion or can-do spirit; I said thereís no way I'm stopping now.
When you believe in what youíre doing, thatís the first thing. And you have to be resilient, because people are going to try to knock you down.
Anything we want to do, we can do. If we can dream it, it can be done.
As a result of this system, weíre able to compete with China and kick ass the American way. It's less expensive, for me, the way we do business, to manufacture here in the United States. There's a high cost to going offshore.
If you're working with a supplier in China, you've got to work months in advance. If you're working with your own factory, you can wake up one morning and say, ĎHey, let's make 10,000 tank tops today.í
Let's get something small Ė maybe a moped! Get a kid to just ride it from store to store. Some kids get off on that Ė living off exhaust! A customer could wait while this yahoo gets on his bike and gets his ass over here.
You know the face of your worker ... engineers and designers and finance people and knitters and dyers and chemists can come together in one location and say, ĎHow can we do this better?í You can produce products more efficiently than they can be made on an outsource basis.
Give me the chance of going to Harvard or being there when Google started and I want to be there making $3 an hour sweeping their floors. Or Apple when Steve Jobs started it. Maybe I'm delusional but that's what I think American Apparel is.
I make more money than my competition who pays 50 cents an hour because of the efficiencies of dealing with someone face to face and paying them a fair wage.
I think it's really low brow to take advantage of labor cost inequalities to sustain your business. I know how to use communications, technology, and distribution systems to deliver t-shirts to the public without damaging the lives of my workers.
The beautiful thing about free trade is it creates an environment of competition where there's a marketplace of ideas. And you know, one guy could go offshore and pull things in from China. Another guy could automate here in the United States. And may the best man win. Maybe both men will win.
I want to be remembered as one of the great CEOs of our time and of my generation. And I think that I'm gonna make them proud. That's my plan.