Kanye West has involved Dov Charney — the controversial founder of American Apparel who’s been accused of sexual harassment by numerous women and printed West’s infamous “White Lives Matter” shirt — in his Yeezy business, Rolling Stone has learned.
A source familiar with the situation tells Rolling Stone that Yeezy employees have been asked to loop Dov into major decisions, including financial ones, since at least April. The source also confirmed Charney was recently in Japan with West, which is backed up by recent photos on social media of the pair shopping together. (Reports of the partnership first surfaced last week via Puck.)
West has been working to rebuild Yeezy in recent months after all but destroying his fashion empire last year. He ended his major partnership with the Gap last September, after which followed a wild several months — the “White Lives Matter” T-shirt, insensitive comments about George Floyd’s murder, numerous antisemitic remarks, and the dissolution of West’s partnerships with Balenciaga and Adidas. At the time, Rolling Stone also reported on the toxic work environment at Yeezy, where West said “skinheads and Nazis were his greatest inspiration” and showed staff pornography.
Despite all that, West appears committed to rebuilding Yeezy, even finding a new headquarters for the company in West Hollywood — in a building that, probably not coincidentally, happens to be next to an Adidas store. Along with Charney, the other major figure involved in Yeezy these days is Bianca Censori, an Australian architect who has worked for the company since 2020. On Instagram, she lists herself as the company’s Head of Architecture; she and West also reportedly “wed” at a ceremony earlier this year, though they haven’t actually filed marriage documents.
As for Charney, his partnership with West isn’t surprising in and of itself — both have built major fashion brands, courted serious controversy, and suffered the consequences. But they ostensibly found themselves at odds with each other last fall after West debuted the “White Lives Matter” shirt during a fashion show in Paris. Charney was reportedly the supposed manufacture who would release the T-shirts widely, but backed out after West’s “Death con 3 on Jewish People” tweet (Charney is Jewish).
West complained about Charney’s decision on his infamous Drink Champs interview. He claimed Charney encouraged him to visit the Holocaust Museum, to which West told him to visit Planned Parenthood, “our Holocaust Museum.” Charney declined to comment to Rolling Stone at the time. (RS also reported that West’s team handed out the extra “White Lives Matter” T-shirts for free in Los Angeles’ Skid Row neighborhood.)
In recent years, Charney has been focused on building his new company, Los Angeles Apparel, which he founded in 2016, two years after being ousted from American Apparel. Like American Apparel, Los Angeles Apparel specializes in monochromatic fashion basics, and their ad campaigns rely on unvarnished, sexually provocative images.
While Charney built American Apparel into a major fashion company during the late-2000s/early-2010s, his tenure was also marred by numerous sexual misconduct and harassment allegation, as well as claims that he fostered a toxic work environment. Charney denied the allegations and was found guilty of, or liable for, any crimes (the lawsuits against him either settled or went to arbitration). Still, when the American Apparel board ousted him in 2014, they said it was because he’d become a liability to the company.