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Dov Charney

(1969 - )

Dov Charney is the founder and CEO of American Apparel, a clothing manufacturer, wholesaler, and retailer. Charney is known for his success as an entrepreneur and passion for simple clothing.

Charney was born January 31, 1969 in Montreal, Canada to Jewish parents and attended a private boarding school in Connecticut. He briefly attended Tufts University in Boston, though did not graduate from there as he dropped out in 1990 to pursue his business ventures.

Dov was always considered an entrepreneur - according to the New York Times his first venture was selling rainwater he had collected in mayonnaise jars to his neighbors. As an 11 year old, Charney edited his own newspaper which he sold for 20 cents a piece outside his school.

In 1991, Charney began making basic T-shirts under the American Apparel brand. The initial T-shirts were made of simple 18-single jersey and were positioned to compete with the Hanes Beefy-T. The primary market objective was to sell garments to screen printers and wholesale clothiers in the United States and Canada. In 1997, as his design, the 'Classic Girl', built momentum, Charney transitioned manufacturing to Los Angeles. In 2000, American Apparel moved into its current 800,000 sq ft (74,000 m2) factory located in downtown Los Angeles. He formed the company as a domestic vertically-integrated manufacturer, making him the largest manufacturer still producing garments in America.

Initially American Apparel was a wholesale brand but in 2003 it expanded into the retail market. Its first stores were in Montreal, New York City and Los Angeles. By 2005, the company had over $200M in revenue and included more than 260 retail stores.

In 2004, he was named Ernst & Young's Entrepreneur of the Year and Apparel Magazine's Man of the Year. In 2008, Charney was named Retailer of the Year at the Michael Awards.

Sources:, Wikipedia; Photo Credit: Flickr, Dov Charney, 2008.