This is a long holiday weekend in need of a longform beach read. So here is a recent piece about American Apparel's founder and iconoclast, Dov Charney. Why bother? Well, because Charney probably knows more about retail restructurings at this point than half of you. We kid, we kid.
Anyway, trust us and take a look. The article demonstrates how in ten short years the retail space has dramatically changed. Charney expanded from a B2B wholesaler to a B2C brick-and-mortar destination in an astounding amount of time (sidenote: Charney's architect running the expansion was none other than WeWork co-founder, Miguel McKelvey). Will we ever see that level of retail expansion again? It doesn't seem likely.
Otherwise, American Apparel's double vault into bankruptcy is well documented by this point. Charney tried to buy the company out of the first bankruptcy for $300mm; he was denied. He didn't try to buy it the second time which came a cold 6 months later and the company sold its intellectual property to Gilden Apparel for $88mm. Gilden then shut down the entirely of the retail footprint (and the company's Los Angeles warehouse). Now Charney is launching "Los Angeles Apparel" and going all Clint Eastwood on Gilden. We love a good showdown.
If, at this point, you're thinking "This is my long holiday weekend and I don't want to stress out by reading something about that dumba$$, Charney," well, we get it. So, a few highlights to otherwise spare you:
Choice Quote #1: "...the private equity firms can't wait to get out. They want a pay day. They're not looking to hang around or create something unique, or win accolades for their creativity. They're measured by how much money they can extract from the business. They're not interested in the customer; it's not about authenticity." PETITION note: see, e.g., Payless Shoesource, rue21 Inc., Gymboree, Claire's Stores...arggh, you get the point.
Choice Quote #2: "'The money's not talented...[t]he money doesn't create the value. Basically the hedge funds and the private equity firms - and it's not all of them - they hire these consulting firms. What these guys do, they just come in, they raid the company - basically the suits take over. But it hasn't worked out in fashion, as far as I can tell." PETITION note: see, e.g., Wet Seal, rue21, Gymboree, Claire's Stores...arggh, you get the point. Query also: which consulting firm is he referring to? Hmmm.
Choice Quote #3: "To avoid over-production, some of those smaller players go as far as crowdfunding their inventory, waiting for a minimum order from their customers before they even contemplate production...." PETITION Note: we've been wondering whether inventory-by-crowdfunding would become more of a trend. Significantly, Elon Musk has been doing that with new Tesla models: make an order and pay a deposit. He he can then know precisely how many new models to manufacture and project cash needs accordingly. Andreesen Horowitz folks cover this topic in this interesting podcast. Moreover, other big brands are using crowdsourcing for consumer product goods. Retail is a tough business these days: we wonder whether additional brands will deploy crowdsourcing to create awareness/buzz and manage inventory simultaneously. Stay tuned and watch this trend.
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