Controversial American Apparel founder and CEO Dov Charney made headlines last week when he was ousted from the company for "alleged misconduct." Charney, naturally, is not leaving his post without a fight.
In an exclusive interview with the Financial Times, Charney spoke to reporter Elizabeth Paton, defending his reputation and referring to the executive board's decision as "exploitative of my dignity.” He has reportedly filed with the SEC in hopes of overturning the board's decision, and he is seeking $23–25 million in severance pay. (Allan Mayer, American Apparel's co-chair, seemingly laughed at Charney's plea, labeling him "a dreamer.")
“It’s sad to me that the board are invoking sexual shame in a false way to advance their agenda. Its almost like mocking someone’s sexual orientation in order to advance themselves,” he said of the accusations (most of which publicly surfaced years ago). “American Apparel is about vision, passion, intensity, brand-free, sustainability, fair wages, solar power, recycling, creativity and the can-do spirit. It’s about contrarian thinking winning out over the conventional.”
Charney seems to remain optimistic not just of his prior role at the company, but his future relationship with it as well. He reads supportive text messages aloud to Paton (“Do what you have taught us. We love you and are all the energy you need to have now. We will fight too," one said), and attempts to convince readers of not just his passion for the company he created, but also of his efforts to improve its financial woes; he cites structural changes within the past year, including overseeing employee expenses and the brand's large (and costly) distribution center.
“I am a deep part of the brand. My team and I have worked decades to shape and design the aesthetic," he concludes, proudly. "What’s more, I’ve been doing the right things and have handpicked the team currently in place—bar perhaps the CFO and some of his associates... I may not be married, or have grey hair, or embody the conventional characteristics of an executive board. But whether I fit that template or not, I know I have been turning this company around, and am on the right track."