Shoppers know American Apparel by its risqu ads, bright basics and that unconventional CEO -- but that may all change with the firing of founder Dov Charney.
Charney is being ousted as CEO by the board of the Los Angeles-based brand he founded more than 15 years ago, following years of sexual harassment accusations, his alleged attack of a store manager and criticism over provocative advertising.
American Apparel CEO Dov Charney: A Tarnished Hero?American Apparel Board Votes to Oust CEO Dov Charney
American Apparel maintains its philosophy and commitment to made-in-America clothing won't change, but Charney's exit will surely have an effect on how people view the controversial and money-losing fashion brand.
Hours after the company's Wednesday announcement of Charney's pending exit, women in support of the decision sounded off on social media, many saying they're thrilled they can finally shop at the store in good conscience.
Others wondered how Charney's ouster will affect the provocative advertising the brand is known for. Charney is famous for taking many of the shots himself -- usually of real women, not professional models, without makeup and often in suggestive poses. It's a signature style Charney simply described as "our look," in an interview with ABC's "Nightline" in 2012.
Retail expert Brian Sozzi suspects those edgy ad campaigns will part ways along with Charney.
"All the scandalous ads, even the scandalous mannequins in the store, they're very much reflective of that founder's vision," said Sozzi, CEO and chief equities strategist at Belus Capital Advisors. "Which was great when the company launched, because there wasn't anything in the market like that. But now people have had enough."
American Apparel said its design philosophy won't change, but it's hard to believe we'll still see ads similar to ones that repeatedly caused waves of bad publicity for the brand.
"The company has a strong creative team and design department, and they will continue to do their thing," American Apparel said in a statement to ABC News. "Dov may have created American Apparel, but the company is much larger than any one individual and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead of it."
Moving past Charney's tarnished image will be a huge task for the financially-stricken brand, Sozzi said.
"In my experience, improving customer perception can take over a year -- it may never happen," he said. "In order for American Apparel to start changing perception, they need to reorganize their stores, pull back on this aggressive marketing. And that takes time."
He says American Apparel will have to expand its scope beyond the "urban hipster," and try to reach a larger customer base to catch up to stores like H&M and Forever 21.
American Apparel wouldn't comment further about how the company will change after Charney's exit.
Charney could not be reached for comment. Every lawsuit against him appears to have been dropped or settled.
The man taking his place for the time being is John Luttrell, American Apparel's current executive vice president and CFO, who will serve as interim CEO. Before he joined American Apparel in 2011, he worked for Old Navy, The Wet Seal and Cost Plus.
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