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American Apparel Hires New Men's Designer From Band of Outsiders

Episode IV: "A New Hope."
An American Apparel store. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

An American Apparel store. Photo: Andrew Burton/Getty Images

As American Apparel works to create a new identity in a post-Dov Charney era, it's hired some fresh talent to help with that task: Joseph Pickman, who comes to the brand from L.A.-based label Band of Outsiders. American Apparel confirmed, Tuesday, that Pickman will be heading up men's design, an area of the business that hasn't been doing so well lately.

The retailer has been reworking both its executive team and its aesthetic in the last few months. After Charney was officially terminated and newcomer Paula Schneider named CEO in December, American Apparel went on to fire creative directors Iris Alonzo and Marsha Brady and hired a new marketing executive to tone down its previously racy advertisements. 

While layoffs, employee complaints and a generally messy back-and-forth between American Apparel and Charney have made it difficult to feel great about the transition — fantasy and aspiration, not corporate turmoil, sell clothes — hiring a new designer from a brand that's as well-liked as Band of Outsiders, which is mainly associated with things like cookies and Polaroid campaigns, is a placating move. And it's not hard to see how someone who has spent over three years creating Band of Outsiders's unfussy button-ups, sweatshirts and tailored pants would fit right in with American Apparel's basics-oriented business, so while Pickman could drive things forward a bit, he's not likely to alienate the brand's current customers.

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As for the business itself, leaked financial documents published by Buzzfeed on Monday show that American Apparel is still struggling to right itself. According to the figures, worldwide sales were down 10.9 percent as of March 31, and U.S. sales were down 12.8 percent relative to the year prior. (A source close to the company noted to Fashionista that the leaked document was a draft, and that the numbers haven't been finalized yet.)

Despite the continued tension, we're genuinely looking forward to seeing what Pickman's vision for the American Apparel guy looks like. If the company can get its marketing, merchandising and design teams on the same page, it might actually stand a chance of moving forward — dented image notwithstanding.