Fame, Fortune And Fashion: Why Dov Charney Got Off The Hook

Why have these two men gotten away with disgusting behavior for so long?

American Apparel

What once seemed impossible, has finally happened: Dov Charney, the man synonymous with both the word "pervy" and his brand, American Apparel, has finally been fired. That's right. Society: 1; Charney: 0. It's always nice when we score one for the good guys; it's just too bad it’s taken this long to bring the monster down.

Charney has been at the helm his company since 1991 when he started with the production of just a few t-shirts that he hoped would be an alternative to Hanes Beefy-T. Within a decade he moved into his current Los Angeles factory and, along with his title of being founder and CEO, he had a board of directors, a board that would eventually turn against him.


So why is Charney getting the boot?

Although Allan Mayer, one of the company directors, claims the ousting of Charney was one made "amid a continuing investigation," he also pointed out that, "Dov Charney created American Apparel, but the company has grown much larger than any one individual, and we are confident that its greatest days are still ahead." What that basically means is Dov is being blamed for a company that's failing to make bank. 

As of Wednesday's closing bell, American Apparel's shares had fallen 84 percent in the past five years. If we do the math, take into consideration the almighty dollar, stack it up against Charney's "controversial" behavior, then look at the timing of his firing, what do you see?


Basically, I take back my earlier score. Society: 0; Charney: 1.

Dov Charney may be currently unemployed, but considering his wealth from his empire and the fact that he has, for years, gotten away with sexual misconduct, he still wins. He wins because, like his fellow perv Terry Richardson, society allows him to do so.

Since the mid-2000s, Charney has been knee-deep in sexual harassment allegations, all of which are still pending, were settled, or simply thrown out. Despite being a boss who strolled through his Los Angeles warehouses in his underwear, referred to himself as a "dirty guy," and used the word "sluts" in reference to women on a regular basis, because, you know, it's not a derogatory word in his book, Charney has gotten off scott free time and time again, while those women who suffered at the hands of his sexual harassment and manipulations were just lined up and swept under the rug.

In each case, Charney played the victim, claimed it was some sort of conspiracy or extortion, and other ridiculous excuses that you'd find in any episode of Law & Order. And, of course, he didn't mean any harm in any of it. It was all in good fun! Those women wanted him! Seduced him! So why not show up to work in your American Apparel underwear? Stop picking on the "dirty guy!" He's obviously just misunderstood! Eye roll.


Charney's firing comes on the heels of New York Magazine's latest cover story, "The Perverse Case of Terry Richardson," an article in which writer Benjamin Wallace ponders whether or not Richardson is a predator or an artist. While the consensus seems to be both, by many people, what's most infuriating is that the "artist" status somehow allows for Richardson's perversion. His place in the fashion world, with his abhorrent photos of his subjects against stark white backgrounds, his Chester the Molester-type glasses (just like his buddy Charney), and his ridiculous thumbs up shtick, continues to protect him from any true prosecution. It doesn't seem to matter how many women come forward with their heartbreaking stories, there is a force field, whether it's art, money, or simple notoriety, that these two men get to hide behind.

Terry Richardson has made many people famous. He's also photographed some of the most famous faces in the world, including Lena Dunham, who would later regret her decision to pose for him. Dov Charney has made many people rich, including the American Apparel board of directors. It's more than logical that now, only now, as the company shares have tanked, that Charney has been let go. Where was this decision 10 years ago? Why were the "investigations" into his behavior not a factor then? If either one of these men were just your average Joe on the street, we wouldn't even be having this conversation.

We live in a society that not only sexualizes women, but where rape culture is alive and well. We live under the pathetic excuse that "boys will be boys," and women are their playthings. Combine that patriarchal mentality with money and fame, and we have a situation in which Dov Charney and men like him can get away with their disgusting behavior. Richardson isn't behind bars; he's on the cover of New York Magazine this week being all but defended, both because of who he is and his standing in the fashion world. Charney is no different.

We can breath a sigh of relief, and be happy that Dov Charney, at least for now, has been taken out of his place of power. But we can't find solace in a delusion that somehow we've won against a sexual predator, because we haven't. He's not being punished for his actions; he's being punished for the money he's not making.


Twenty-four hours after Charney was canned, shares in American Apparel rose by 14 percent. As for the women he harassed and degraded all these years? They're still waiting for a justice that may never come.

Society: 0; Corporate America: 1.