American Apparel campaign for Coachella.

Manufacturing in the United States is a hot issue especially in fashion these days and who better to outline predictions of a global economic change than the controversial CEO of American Apparel, Dov Charney. Filmed inside his downtown Los Angeles manufacturing center of American Apparel Charney offers up why his Made in the USA model can meet the demands of trends, retailing, distribution and manufacturing. One of the main topics of conversation is the fast transit time from manufacturing and distributing onsite. “The fast transit time with team manufacturing,” says Charney “means speed to market and that’s a huge difference. There’s no 30-day travel time from Asia” which is many cases has redefined the marketplace.

Charney brings up another interesting issue about sustainability and manufacturing called “avante garde morality” meaning that Made in the USA meets the growing demand among consumers to source and buy sustainable products or from brands that practice fair trade fashion practices. However one of the huge issues with manufacturing apparel in the USA, particularly Los Angeles, is the number of undocumented immigrants working in various factories.

According to Charney, they hire only workers documented to work at his company, but they may not be American citizens. The reality is that there’s 2 million undocumented worked in LA alone and some 12 million undocumented immigrant workers in the United States. Immigration laws are an ongoing issue in this country, and as many manufacturers in fashion and footwear admit, without these workers the American manufacturing business would collapse. Thus the vast need for revised immigration laws.

Other issues discussed where the high cotton prices that have had a major impact on fashion across the board. At one point, cotton went from $1.50 per yard to $3.30 per yard. For American Apparel, which uses an average of 6,000 pounds of cotton per day, this contributed to lower revenues, especially in 2008 and 2009. However according to Charney, cotton prices have normalized. Between that and changes in how they run things, their 250 stores saw a 20% increase in revenue in March, 2012. According to Charney, American Apparel estimates a profitable model in 2013, and in so doing, continues to hire a team with specific skills, for example, in denim, production, and manufacturing. Next up for American Apparel will be how they take on the denim industry, similarly to how they up-ended first-layer brands like Fruit of the Loom and others with their T-shirts.

Check-out the interview here.