American Apparel bankruptcy felt by student employees

In November, Augustina Chakma read an article that her employer, American Apparel, was declaring bankruptcy.

Chakma, a fourth-year retail management student, had worked at the American Apparel on Queen Street West since her first year at Ryerson.

But now, her university job will come to an end.

The Los Angeles retailer filed for its second bankruptcy on Nov. 14, following issues regarding flawed management and sexist advertising the reason Ryerson axed American Apparel as its clothing source.

Toronto American Apparel stores have been liquidating for almost a month. Tagwa Moyo/Ryersonian

The company began its layoffs of 2,400 American employees last week.

“I depended on American Apparel for income to go shopping or eating … but now that this is happening, I have to rely on my family,” Chakma said.

Jan. 31 is layoff day for Chakma and other Canadian American Apparel employees.

Chakma said she won’t look for a new job after her end date.

“I’ve talked to my family about this and at first I was worried I’d have to find a new job and it will be hard because retail is slow after the holidays, but I’m in school full-time with a six course load,” Chakma said. “So I think this might work out in my favour so I can focus on school for right now.”

Canadian clothing manufacturer, Gildan Activewear, bought the American Apparel brand and equipment for $88 million.

But the company will not be keeping any American Apparel stores, factories or employees, according to a statement from Gildan Activewear.

“[Gildan’s] final cash bid includes the acquisition of the worldwide intellectual property rights related to the American Apparel brand and certain manufacturing equipment. The Company will also separately purchase inventory from American Apparel,” the statement read.

Ryerson’s Career Centre does not have a specific program to respond to layoffs, but offers programs for students and alumni who are unemployed.

“What we do have is quite a few programs to take advantage of,” Ian Ingles, operations manager at Ryerson’s Career Centre, said.

These programs include one-on-one career specialists’ meetings, workshops and career tutorials.

Ryerson’s Career Centre services are available for current students and alumni up to five years past graduation.

“The end goal is to get them working again or further education if they want to switch fields,” Ingles said.

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