Dov Charney paces across the bedroom in a bathrobe and sweatpants, flip-flops and socks. “Don’t worry, I know this business!” he says, nearly yelling into his phone. He’s unshaven, and his sandals slap the travertine floor as he walks. “Trust me! I’ve sold $5 billion of apparel!”
It’s February 2016, barely a month since a judge ruled that Charney had failed to win back American Apparel, the company that suspended him 20 months earlier, the company he built from scratch. It had been a bitter fight. There were lawsuits and demonstrations by workers protesting the new management, allegations of death threats. As ever, Charney was a polarizing figure. Some saw a progressive visionary who paid his workers a decent wage and proved that textile jobs didn’t need to be outsourced for a company to make a profit. Others saw a sexist “troglodyte” (the Web site Jezebel) who slept with staffers half his age and whose recklessness destroyed the business.