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American Apparel hires Joseph Pickman

By Kristopher Fraser

8 Apr 2015

There might be hope for American Apparel yet. The struggling retailer has hired Joseph Pickman, formerly the men's design director at Band of Outsiders, to head up their men's design department as they seek to improve that part of their business. American Apparel CEO Paula Schneider told Women's Wear Daily in an interview, "“The men’s business has been trending down for quite a while and we need to really work on bringing that back up to where it could be because we have the consumer, but the conversions aren’t there. So we’re working really hard to update our basics and to also have a better merchandised experience when you walk in [stores].”

Hiring Pickman is seen as one of Schneider's efforts to try and turn the controversial retailer around. Between the ongoing controversy with founder and ex-CEO Dov Charney, and recently laying off 180 employees the brand has had a rough start to their year. Where there is a will there's a way though.

Given Pickman's history at Band of Outsiders we could be bracing ourselves for a more elevated aesthetic at American Apparel. His hiring comes after the recent hiring of Cynthia Erland, the new Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Thoryn Stephens, the new Chief Digital Officer. Creative Director Iris Alonzo and designer Marsha Brady were dismissed from the company this year.

Joseph Pickman will be American Apparel's new head of men's design

In addition to their recent string of hiring's, American Apparel has also dumped a cornucopia of their inventory. The company has acknowledged they do have a few million units left, however, and most of it is stuff that didn't sell that they have realized just didn't work. It's an excellent opportunity for the company to learn from their mistakes and what will work for them going forward.

One of the reason that Pickman's appointment is so important is because the brand is in desperate need of something new. So much of their product from recent seasons was just variations on designs they had before, and people did not want it because it looked like the same American Apparel clothes they already had in their closets. A more elevated and fashion forward look could be just what the company needs to bring customers back.

Hats off to Schneider for somehow managing to deal with more issues and controversies than any CEO ever hired to take over a sinking company ever. She stepped in having to deal with everything from massive debt, a PR controversy surrounding their founder, Iris Alonzo's departure, and struggling sales figures. She should be highly commended for her perseverance to keep American Apparel a force in the retail industry despite a new obstacle at every turn. With the hiring of Pickman, American Apparel could begin to see some real turnaround.

photo: jpda.net