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Gildan Activewear turnsaround American Apparel targets doubling sales

Gildan Activewear, around a year ago, acquired the intellectual-property rights of American Apparel, the LA-based company founded by Dov Charney in 1989. During its heydays, American Apparel’s revenues spiralled up to around $634 million in 2013 before its downfall. Gildan took formal control in February 2017 and had around a month to get its act together with new production and marketing strategies. In the first year itself the company raked in $50 million and this year, it aims to double sales to $100 million. Garry Bell, Gildan’s VP, corporate marketing and communications says to remain true to the label’s roots, the marketing, merchandising and design team is in Los Angeles and will stay that way. The brand has a distinct voice, a distinct feeling and vibe, and we don’t want to disrupt that.

The marketing team spearheaded by Sabina Weber — who worked at American Apparel before the company declared bankruptcy — has an all-female team, many of who also worked at the LA-based American Apparel. Weber and her team are marketing the brand on social media and selling the collection on its e-commerce site, which was up and running at the end of last July.

Gildan is looking at expanding sales to the UK and further to Europe, Canada and Japan. Currently, the wholesale business is generating maximum revenue for American Apparel, with sales to concert promoters, souvenir tours and fund-raisers. For consumer, Gildan has been selling on the back of its campaign ‘Back to Basics’ which consists of basic T-shirts, sweats, baseball jerseys, rugby shirts and shorts that retail for $22 to $54 — if they are made in the company’s factories in Nicaragua and Honduras.

The company has junked the risqué ad campaigns that American Apparel was known for and has given a classy edge to its photo shoots which uses real people with real bodies as against thin models who are not typical average person.