American Apparel’s aim to quickly regain share is heating up as the company looks to relaunch the brand outside the U.S. on Tuesday.
The company, whose intellectual property was acquired in a bankruptcy auction last year by Gildan Activewear Inc., said it will open its online store to more than 200 countries. The company had continued with its wholesale business after the Gildan deal and more recently launched in the U.S. online.
“Sales-wise, things are going really well [in the U.S.]. The response has been incredibly positive in the U.S. and lots of growth in the right areas for us,” said American Apparel director of marketing Sabina Weber. “That led us into the decision to move globally. This brand has had a lot of changes coming out of the historical elements that were not so positive. To have such a positive response [from consumers] has been really amazing. It just validated that people have such a deep love for the brand.”
The company is also contemplating a return to brick-and-mortar, although the particulars are not yet known.
“It’s something that the business is exploring, but there’s very little on anything specific,” Weber said. “It’s something that’s in the early stages that they’re looking at.”
It’s the pieces the company was most well-known for that are filling out the assortment for the global rollout, including disco pants, high-waist jeans, bodysuits, metallic leggings, hoodies and fisherman pullovers.
The expanded distribution will be paired with the recasting of a social media advertising campaign the company has dubbed “Back to Basics.” American Apparel had rolled out the campaign with the U.S. launch and will re-release it for the global expansion. Key markets that historically did well for the business are expected to help drive the company’s re-entry internationally in places such as the U.K., South Korea and Canada.
“We took the approach that we wanted to just be very upfront and acknowledge that there were some lessons to be learned from the past and move on from there,” Weber said when asked how the company was thinking about its marketing and conversation with customers on the eve of its global relaunch. “I think that acknowledgement means a lot because you’re being honest and transparent.”
Weber went on to say the company is focused on showing a broader range of diversity in its advertising and has made it a point to not cast models under the age of 21.
The strategic move is not unexpected, with American Apparel to help drive growth projections for its parent company this year. Gildan updated investors in February at the time of its full-year 2017 results saying it expects net sales growth in 2018 to come, in part, from continued scale of the American Apparel fashion and basics business alongside that of sister brands Anvil and Comfort colors, among others. American Apparel alone is projected to bring in about $100 million in net sales this year, about double the size of the business from what it was in 2017.
The company’s Los Angeles office is about a block-and-a-half from the former American Apparel factory in downtown, with a staff of about 40 workers. The office handles marketing, merchandising, design production and sourcing.
The timing of this latest move comes as Dov Charney, American Apparel founder and former chief executive officer, is also quickly looking to regrow his own basics business, called Los Angeles Apparel. The start-up, backed by investments from some company workers and private investors, is a combination of wholesale and direct-to-consumer. Charney quietly launched U.S. e-commerce in late 2017 and estimates a likely re-entry into physical retail as early as within the next year.