American Apparel relaunches online-only in the UK

American Apparel has reopened in the UK – but this time it’s an online-only business.

The retail brand has returned as a pureplay 18 months after its previous owners

target="_blank" href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">went into administration in November 2016. Back then, an offshoot of the original North American business of the same name and operated by subsidiary companies American Apparel (UK) Ltd and American Apparel (Carnaby) Ltd, was a Top350 retailer in IRUK Top500 research and had 13 stores in the UK. It failed at a time when its US parent company was being sold and stopped shipping to its UK subsidiaries, which were not part of that sale. The US business subsequently failed and Canadian company Gildan bought its assets in 2017, launching a US website last year.

Now the American Apparel brand has returned to the UK with the launch of a new website, where the emphasis is ethical and sustainability issues, featuring ‘ethically made – sweatshop free’ banner and case studies on the people who work for its parent company in central America, the Dominican Republic and Bangladesh.

Gavin Lowther, head of digital at Visualsoft, says the move to digital-only is an interesting one in a challenging retail market.

“In previous years, established retail brands have dominated high streets across the country through the power of their name alone,” he said. “However, the reliance on brick-and-mortar means that many of the UK’s ‘top’ retailers are bloated, expensive and susceptible to more agile online-only brands, as evidenced by the demise of retail giants Toys ‘R’ Us and Maplin.

“While only time will tell if American Apparel’s move to the pure-play digital space will be commercially successful, the vast majority of the UK’s top retailers currently stunt their growth potential by neglecting their online offering, demonstrating the growth opportunities for forward-thinking retail brands who take the time to optimise their online presence. Following American Apparel’s lead, and prioritising online, could be key to reviving the fortunes of flagging retail giants, such as M&S and Debenhams.”

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