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American Apparel is reopening its first store in LA

An American Apparel store.
An American Apparel store.
William Murphy (aka infomatique)/Flickr Creative Commons

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L.A.-based American Apparel was once hipper than hip, with its eye-catching billboards showing off shimmery gold body suits and less flashy basics like t-shirts and hoodies. The company was also known for making its clothes in the U.S. in its downtown L.A. factory.

But in recent years, the brand's popularity tumbled. In 2015, the company filed for bankruptcy, its founder Dov Charney was pushed out, and by January of last year, all of its stores were shuttered.

Well, the brand is staging a comeback. It announced plans to reopen a single brick-and-mortar store here in Los Angeles at a former American Apparel location on Melrose Avenue. 

The return to brick-and-mortar is the next step as Gildan, the Canadian clothing company that bought American Apparel, tries to reinvigorate the brand. 

Gildan already re-launched American Apparel's e-commerce site in the U.S. last year and has expanded the website to other countries since. The website also has a unique option for customers: they can buy certain items as 'Globally Made' or 'Made in the U.S.A.' for an increase in price. 

"[The price difference] depends on whether it's a t-shirt or a sweatshirt. I've seen it range from $4 to maybe $10 or $12. So we're not talking about a huge difference, but that's not working out so well apparently. I asked them how that was going, and they said customers are going for the cheaper price," said Sandrine Rastello, a reporter following the story for Bloomberg.

Gildan makes its clothes globally, but it wanted to offer the made-in-the-U.S.A. option to customers who valued that aspect of American Apparel, Rastello said.

As for the brick-and-mortar stores, the L.A. location opening later this year is the only planned store for now, but Gildan could open more if this shop does well.

“It’s gonna be a bit of a test store. Who knows what could happen -- more stores, franchises, everything is open," Rastello said.