American Apparel was founded in 1988 by Dov Charney. Although the company produced clothing in Mexican sweatshops early on, all opperations were moved to Los Angeles by 2000, and the brand began to position itself as a progressive corporation. AA employees earn an average of $13 per hour and receive benefits--including healthcare, paid sick and vacation days, company-subsidized lunches, ESL training--not often associated with factory workign conditions.
In 2003, the company began to shift its rhetorical model from "sweatshop free" to "vertically-integrated." The shift highlighted the company's insistence upon designing, producing, and retailing items of clothing at a single site. The model would allow the company to expedite the process of bringing an item of clothing to market while still keeping emphasis on the original values of made-in-the-US production.
A fortune 500 company, American Apparel exceded $124 million in revenue for 2004. The company has opened retail locations througout the United States, Canada, and western Europe, as well as a handful of stores in Mexico, Korea, Israel.