Some people seem so impervious to the swirl of controversy surrounding them that they'll never fail. And then they do.
Dov Charney, the American Apparel CEO famous for once jerking off in front of a reporter and bragging about sleeping with employees - as well as outfitting every hipster on the continent with neon, "sweatshop-free" basics - has been booted out of his own company, reportedly over a string of sexual harassment lawsuits. And oddly, I feel like I should be writing a farewell to the notorious sleaze ball.
I started buying the Montrealer's wholesale Ts and screen printing them with grrl-power slogans back when I ran my own one-woman basement sweatshop while working, simultaneously in the non-profit world of labour rights.
His were the only blank girl Ts in town that claimed to be "sweatshop-free" and didn't resemble a dumpy XL potato sack. I kept pawning my "one woman army" shirts all the way through my early days as a NOW Magazine staff news writer.
I was still selling to the Toronto's Women's Bookstore on Harbord (R.I.P.) when I interviewed Charney about American Apparels racey ads, questioning whether he was a soft-porn pusher, youth prophet or just the latest incarnation of an old school womanizing business dude from Montreal's rag trade.
At the time, Charney told me "puritanical" Toronto was the only city complaining about his ads. Nearly a decade later, American Apparel's board of directors pulled a surprise move Wednesday, June 18 by announcing they were firing him "with cause" for "an ongoing investigation into alleged misconduct."
We can only speculate about the nature of the alleged misconduct, but word of the sacking drove American Apparel's stock up 19 per cent within 12 hours of the news.
The company has been in financial trouble for a few years now and shareholders may be singing ding dong the controversy-dogged CEO is dead. But I can't help but worry about where the business goes from here.
Charney, for all his antics, managed to keep his solar-panelled factory chugging in Los Angeles when nearly every other brand had long split for cheaper, sweatshop pastures overseas.
He pushed for vertical integration that brought all weaving and dyeing to L.A. And all distribution stayed firmly planted in Cali as well. He figured out creative uses for the mountains of waste fibres the schmata industry creates. And kept his organic line going when most major fashion brands ditched their fly-by-night eco options the moment the surge in green consumer consciousness stumbled with the global recession.
With Charney gone, will there be enough ideological zeal left to keep all those local pieces in play at American Apparel, and using workers making double what other L.A. garment district employees are making with cheap health care, free daycare and roaming massage therapists?
The threat of a boss strolling around the workplace in his underwear is now gone (yes, he notoriously worked sans pants at times). Let's just hope the best of American Apparel's redeeming qualities aren't given the boot too.
Adria Vasil is NOW Magazine's Ecoholic columnist.