American Apparel to open its first brick-and-mortar store since closing every location

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Credit: American Apparel

American Apparel really is going "back to basics."

After starting a campaign by that name last year following its Chapter 11 filing, its rebirth as a subsidiary of Canadian apparel manufacturer Gildan and the closure of all its locations, it's planning to open a store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles.

The chain used to operate one of its flagship stores on that spot, according to Sabina Weber, director of brand marketing. It will be the first brick-and-mortar location from the brand since it closed its stores with massive clearance sales.

Back from the dead, American Apparel is running out-of-home ads in the U.K. and U.S. to promote its return. The company is also running paid social advertising and using Instagram as a vehicle to spread its messaging—which Weber says is still sexy but not as sexualized as in the chain's previous life.

Weber and her team pored through American Apparel archives to revisit the magic that made the brand popular in the mid-aughts and tried to lean into such imagery without the ick factor that notoriously led to the brand's decline under founder Dov Charney.

The new marketing is designed to deliver the authenticity that many brands are embracing as they try to resonate with consumers. Models are a bit older than before; the brand recently had an open model call for those over 21. They're more diverse in size and ethnicity. And they're not retouched.

American Apparel doesn't work with an outside agency, handling all work through the in-house brand marketing team, which keeps costs down and allows for more creativity and control, Weber says.

"There's an agile, content-driven team here that is very focused on maximizing the dollars we have to spend and that drives a level of creativity that is very important to the brand," she says. Weber joined the LA-based clothier three years ago and remained onboard to lead the relaunch in the U.S. last August.

In its heyday nearly a decade ago, the chain had operated around 300 stores. Gildan bought the brand out of bankruptcy for $88 million in early 2017. The new shop is expected to open late this year in November or December.

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CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article identified Sabina Weber as VP of brand marketing at American Apparel. She is director of brand marketing.

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