The Canadian-born entrepreneur Dov Charney has long been a dynamic force in the fashion industry, known for his innovative approach to garment production and his outspoken stance on US immigration policies. Charney first made waves with the establishment of American Apparel, a company that grew to become one of the largest clothing manufacturers in the United States until its bankruptcy in 2015.
Charney’s tenure at American Apparel came to an abrupt end following a series of allegations regarding inappropriate conduct, which led to his dismissal. Undeterred by this setback, he moved forward with a fresh venture, founding Los Angeles Apparel.
The seeds of Charney’s entrepreneurial journey were sown in 1989 when he embarked on selling t-shirts under the American Apparel brand. By 1990, he left college, secured a loan from his family, and set up shop in South Carolina. Over the next few years, Charney honed his knowledge of manufacturing and wholesale operations, which culminated in the relocation of American Apparel to Los Angeles in the mid-90s. By 1997, the company’s manufacturing was consolidated in a downtown Los Angeles factory.
American Apparel carved out a niche by targeting young urban consumers, achieving $12 million in sales by 2001. The brand’s presence expanded rapidly, with 140 stores opened by 2006. The company’s growth trajectory peaked in 2009 with 281 stores, marking one of the swiftest retail expansions in US history. In 2014, American Apparel reported a record $634 million in sales.
Away from the limelight of his business accomplishments, Charney’s personal life has piqued public interest, particularly regarding his marital status. Despite considerable speculation, the Canadian businessman is not currently married and does not appear to be in a publicly known romantic relationship. His commitment to his business pursuits seems to take precedence, leading some to suggest that he is, metaphorically, “married to his work.”
Charney was born in 1969, and as of 2024, he stands at 55 years of age. His Montreal upbringing in a family of creatives—his father an architect and his mother an artist—has been influential in his life. The family’s creative lineage is further enriched by a connection to renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
Despite the hurdles of dyslexia and a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) at a young age, Charney’s academic path included attendance at Choate Rosemary Hall in Connecticut and St. George’s School in Montreal. His formative years in Montreal and his Jewish background have been instrumental in shaping his perspectives and creativity.
Charney’s early forays into business during his high school years involved the importation of Hanes and Fruit of the Loom t-shirts from the United States to Canada, a venture that showcased his entrepreneurial spirit and willingness to take risks. His innovative methods even included smuggling the t-shirts into Canada via Amtrak trains running from New York to Montreal, a testament to his early business acumen.
As Charney continues to steer Los Angeles Apparel, his dedication to his craft remains steadfast. His influence on the fashion and manufacturing industries is undeniable, and his work continues to be the focal point of his life’s pursuits.