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Counselor Senior Editor Michele Bell's slanted view of the world.

In Defense of Dov Charney…

Filed under: Personal

Well, hey there!

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are enjoying a fabulous summer!

Dov CharneyI was on vacation last week, and had the opportunity to get a call from my friend, Dov Charney, the embattled founder of Counselor Top 40 supplier American Apparel. Our chat was off-the-record, but it reminded me of a column I wrote about him in the May, 2013 issue of ASI’s supplier magazine that I edit, SGR. What I said then, still stands today:

In the 17 years I’ve been in the industry as an editor with ASI, the person I get asked about most often, hands down, is Dov. He and I have been friends over 12 years now, as I first met him when I profiled him for Counselor magazine. He wasn’t the famous – some would say infamous – personality he is now, but even then, I knew he was about as unique and unconventional as they come. He is, and always has been, a human A bomb and spending time with him is like being inside a Dyson – crazy, exhilarating, breathtaking and confusing. That’s quintessential Dov Charney.

Now let me acknowledge what everyone is thinking: Yes, he is a lunatic, and yes, he makes questionable decisions to say the least. But he is also – and I’ll stand by this statement every time – the most innately talented marketer I’ve ever met. While the rest of us are limited to five senses, Dov has a sixth – the ability to spot trends well ahead of the masses and craft them into products and a lifestyle brand that the hippest of demographics covet. And say what you will about his business acumen, but after a rollercoaster of profits and losses, his sales have been on a steady incline of late, increasing the sales of his promo division from $90.2 million in 2011 to $96.8 million in 2012 to $99.2 million in 2013.

Whenever he shows up in the news – and let’s face it: he’s not unfamiliar with the inside of a lawyer’s office – friends ask me what he’s really like. Here’s what I say: It’s simply not in his DNA to ask permission to do what he wants with American Apparel, even now as it’s a publicly-traded company; it wouldn’t even dawn on him to ask, or to care, what people think. And I remind people that a lot of what’s been written about him is sensationalized and exaggerated for effect. In reality, Dov is quite charming, very sweet, more than a little nerdy and, in my interactions with him, utterly harmless – but with a big intellect, a bigger mouth and personality that could most politely be described as weapons-grade wacko.

There are a few people in the industry who creep me out to the depths of my soul – including one head of a Top 40 company with whom I wouldn’t be alone without a taser and pepper spray. Dov Charney – with his jaw-dropping talent and despite his over-the-top eccentricities – isn’t one of them. I’d happily spend time with him any day of the week because when he’s creating and innovating, there’s nothing more mesmerizing. And as a Leo, known for our loyalty, I’m sticking by my friend – whether he’s the genius, the mad man or both.

More next week from ASI’s Chicago Show, featuring my favorite event of the year, the Counselor Awards banquet (aka, the Counselor “prom.”).


— M


  1. Jeff Solomon Says:

    Great piece Michelle! The things he has allegedly done are offensive, but there is no denying this man is a game changer. He was the driving force behind an entirely new apparel category.

    Friday July 11, 2014
  2. Sanjay Sinha Says:

    Dov has been an inspiration for me in many ways from my day courtship with the Promotional Industry.
    Thanks Michelle! for this off the hook peep into to Dov’s unconventional personality.

    Monday July 14, 2014

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