Jan 4th 2007
From The Economist print edition
American Apparel's unusual flotation is typical of Dov Charney,its founder
DOV CHARNEY courts controversy. The 37-year-old founder and chief executive of American Apparel, the largest T-shirt manufacturer in America, has been called a brilliant businessman, an amateur pornographer, a Jewish hustler and a man with a social mission. He is admired for single-handedly creating one of America's most successful fashion retailers, for devising his company's sexually suggestive approach to advertising and for treating his workers much better than his rivals. He is also envied, loathed and criticised for all of these things.
今年37岁的道夫•.恰尼（Dov Charney)一向惹人争议，他是美国最大的T恤生产商美国服饰（American Apparel）的创办者与总裁，有人称他是出色的商人，有人称他是业余色情照片摄影师，有人称他是个喜欢投机取巧的犹太奸商，还有人称他是个背负社会使命的人。他独自一人创办了美国最成功的时装销售公司之一，为公司设计了走性暗示路线的广告，给他公司工人的待遇也比竞争对手好得多，因为这些他受到许多人尊敬，也正因为这些招来许多人的妒嫉、厌恶和批评。
As he prepares to take his company public, Mr Charney is trying to strike a less provocative tone than he used to. Previously he emphasised his use of sex as a marketing tool and his tolerance of his workers' sexual preferences: he even posted a video of himself walking around in his underwear on his company's website. Today he prefers to talk about his belief in capitalism, self-interest and globalising markets. But true to form, Mr Charney is taking his firm public in an unusual way. On December 19th American Apparel announced its takeover by Endeavor Acquisition, a “special-purpose acquisition company” formed for the sole purpose of seeking out takeover targets. The deal, due to be completed this summer, will allow Mr Charney to go public without the scrutiny that attends most stockmarket listings.
恰尼过去的说话方式也惹人争议，现在为了准备公司上市，他想低调些说话。以前他总强调他用性作为营销手段，他对员工性取向的宽容，他甚至曾在公司网站发了一段自己穿着内衣遛达的视频。而这些天他更想谈谈他对资本主义、自利行为与全球化市场的信奉。但恰尼行事还是与众不同－－他正用与众不同的方式谋求公司上市。12月19日美国服饰宣布Endeavor Acquisition公司开始收购它，Endeavor Acquisition是专事找寻收购目标的一家“特别目的并购公司”。此项交易将于今年夏天完成，能让美国服饰避开上市的详细审查成功上市。
American Apparel's rise is a striking success story. Mr Charney opened his first shop in 2003. Today he has 143 in 11 countries selling casual clothes for men, women and children. American Apparel's sales for 2006 were an estimated $300m. His company's 80% gross margin, an indicator of its profitability, is well above the industry average of 60%. Its unbranded, brightly coloured and moderately priced T-shirts, sweatshirts, underwear and jeans have become wildly popular among the young, well-travelled crowd that Mr Charney says represents the “world-metropolitan culture”.
From American Apparel's inception Mr Charney has put great emphasis on making his workers happy. Pay is performance-related, and amounts to $12 an hour on average, far above California's minimum wage of $6.75. American Apparel staff can buy subsidised health insurance for $8 a week. They are entitled to free English lessons, subsidised meals and free parking. Their workspace is properly lit and ventilated. When the company goes public employees will receive an average of 500 shares, expected to be worth about $4,500.
Anti-sweatshop activists praise Mr Charney as a pioneer of the fair treatment of garment workers. The benefits he provides are expensive: subsidising health insurance costs his firm $4m-5m a year; subsidising meals costs another $500,000. Even so, Mr Charney says he has no plans to scale back these benefits. He considers his contented workers the reason for his