American Apparel taps 42West's Mayer as co-chair following CEO suspension

American Apparel has appointed Allan Mayer, principal partner at 42West, to serve as co-chairman, following the suspension of the clothing chain's CEO, president, and chairman Dov Charney.

Allan Mayer
Allan Mayer

LOS ANGELES: American Apparel has appointed Allan Mayer, principal partner at 42West, to serve as co-chairman, following the suspension of the clothing chain's CEO, president, and chairman Dov Charney.

Mayer has been upped from his previous role as an American Apparel board member after the board voted to replace Charney as chairman. The board notified Charney of its intent to terminate his employment as president and CEO amid "an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct," according to a company statement released Wednesday evening.

EVP and CFO John Luttrell has been tapped as interim CEO, while also continuing his previous responsibilities. David Danziger, senior partner at accounting firm MSCM, has been appointed as co-chairman with Mayer.

"It is expected" Charney will be fired, following a 30-day "cure period," in which he must address his wrongdoings, the statement said.

Although Charney has been the subject of various lawsuits alleging sexual misconduct since he founded the company in 1998, Mayer said American Apparel – in light of the management changes – will not be focusing its marcomms strategy on altering the company’s image.

"[American Apparel] itself has never had a reputation problem. I think [Charney] had major reputation issues, but they had to do with his behavior," explained Mayer, who has been a member of the company’s board since it went public in 2007, and has served as its lead independent director for the past three years.

"The company has always been considered to be progressive and socially responsible, and to be fair, [Charney] should be given credit for that," he added.

American Apparel’s communications strategy relies on being as transparent as possible, letting the public know why it is doing what it is doing, and where it intends to take the company, said Mayer.

"American Apparel is a marketing-driven, vertically integrated, sweatshop-free, made-in-USA apparel company, and it is not going to change its stripes," he explained. "I know our marketing approach has always been edgy and in some corners considered controversial, but I don’t anticipate any drastic changes."

Mayer has been a principal partner at entertainment PR firm 42West since 2006. Previously, he was MD at Sitrick and Company. Before that, he held senior editorial roles at Buzz Magazine, Simon and Schuster, and Arbor House Publishing.

The board is working with a search firm to identify candidates for a permanent CEO replacement, according to American Apparel’s statement.

Sitrick and Company is handling media relations surrounding the executive changes, confirmed the agency’s founder, chairman, and CEO Michael Sitrick.

"We were [recently retained] as counsel to the board, to advise them on a variety of issues, including this situation, but we now have the [added task of handling] PR counsel for the company," he said.   

In Q1, American Apparel’s net sales decreased 1% to $137.1 million, in comparison with the same period in 2013.  

Following the news of Charney’s suspension, American Apparel shares rose more than 19% in early trading on Thursday.

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