Bet you didn't know that schmata bad boy Dov Charney is a graduate of Choate. Well, the Choate magazine plays him up big in an article about would-be entrepreneurs (Gawker is having fun with it this morning.) On paper, it's a pretty inspiring tale - a deep-thinking young man finds a way to buck conventional retail wisdom with American Apparel, which today has more than 144 locations in 50 countries. Products are made in an L.A. factory and workers are paid double the minimum wage - way more than the going rate.
In a recent telephone interview, Charney excitedly shared the news that his Choate history textbook, "The American Pageant: A History of the Republic" by Thomas Bailey and David Kennedy, has a prominent resting place on a bookshelf in his L.A. apartment. An enthusiastic and dedicated student at Choate, Charney wrote papers on reciprocal free trade between the U.S. and Canada and an analysis of the Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian views of the U.S. Constitution. His Choate teachers used these accolades to describe him: “a relentless thinker,” “a philosopher-in-training,” “without question one of the brightest, most inspiring young men I’ve worked with.”
When Charney was not riding around Wallingford on his moped interviewing subjects for his Senior Project with the local newspaper the Meriden Record-Journal, he began making trips to K-Mart to purchase Hanes T-shirts by the gallon-size bag. Why T-shirts? Charney says he became enamored of the all-cotton Russell Athletic heather-gray T-shirts and Champion athletic wear issued at Choate’s Johnson Athletic Center. At that time, only poorer quality polyester blends were available in Canada. He knew if he could purchase these American commodities in bulk, there would be a market for them back home.
Yeah, sure, but what about the other stuff? What do you think? About the closest the magazine gets to Charney's darker side is this: "American Apparel’s marketing approach and its founder have been described by others as "electric," "edgy" and even "provocative." I love the "by others" part - as if the school didn't dare raise on its own the guy's other side. Y'know, the stuff about having sex with store employees and young models and making the AA marketing campaign look like a hipster's version of "Girls Gone Wild." Come to think of it, there's a lot of Dov Charney in Joe Francis.