A garment worker in Bangladesh earns an average of $600 a year. An experienced American Apparel garment worker can earn $30,000+ and receive bene?ts such as comprehensive health care. American Apparel garments are created by motivated and fairly-paid employees who don't just have jobs - they have careers. Our culture recognizes outstanding performance and promotes from within. Most importantly, our workers have a voice and in?uence the direction of the company. At American Apparel we call it Sweatshop-Free, a term we coined in 2002.
The American Apparel factory is the largest sewing facility in North America. We believe that integrating our manufacturing, distribution and creative processes keeps our company more ef?cient than those who rely on offshore or onshore sub-contracting. By leveraging art, design, and technology at our Downtown LA campus, we are able to pay garment workers fairly AND sell garments pro?tably so we can sustain our business and grow. Everyone bene?ts - customers, workers, and shareholders alike.
There is clearly much more overhead, capital investment and training involved in manufacturing in the USA, as some critics point out. But as American Apparel’s sales increase towards the billion-dollar mark over the next few years, we are con?dent we'll prove that vertical integration is a viable business model that can work even better than the status quo model of continuous outsourcing. It’s not just about made in the USA. More importantly, it is about designing a business that does not, at its fundamental core, rely on the relentless pursuit of low cost labor to survive. As wages and transportation costs increase worldwide, we believe our business model of vertical integration to be the path of least resistance. For the record, American Apparel supports free and fair trade, and almost half of the company's 250 stores are outside the USA, allowing the company to export hundreds of millions of dollars of US-made apparel annually.
American Apparel is also committed to sustainability. We've set the precedent for sustainable and ethical manufacturing in California—the state with the strictest and most progressive EPA standards in the country. By concentrating our entire operation within a few square miles, American Apparel has a smaller carbon footprint than our competitors. We recycle almost all our manufacturing waste (over 150 semi truck loads per year) and as of 2012 we are virtually land?ll-free. Our solar panels offset as much as 20% of our electrical usage, and we ship the majority of our goods to our worldwide stores via excess space on passenger ?ights and busses, minimizing our environmental impact.