Brea-based AST Sportswear Inc. is giving new life to a former American Apparel Inc. fabric dyeing facility in Hawthorne.
The clothing maker said last week that it signed a lease for the 95,000-square-foot, two-story building that used to house America Apparel’s fabric dyeing operations. As a result, AST, which also bought the equipment in the facility, said it will be able to bring virtually all of its dyeing volume in-house.
“The facility lease is in the $10 million range,” said Abdul Rashid, AST’s chief operating officer. “We will add around 120 manufacturing jobs with this expansion by spring of 2018.”
It’s at least the second of American Apparel’s Southern California manufacturing sites to be repurposed since the bankrupt company was acquired by Montreal-based Gildan Activewear Inc. for $88 million in February.
Compton textile company Broncs Inc. purchased American Apparel’s fabric knitting, cutting, and sewing facility in Garden Grove at the beginning of the year, where it was expected to save a few hundred jobs.
It remains to be seen what Gildan plans to do with the other facilities listed on the American Apparel website, including the former company’s downtown headquarters as well as a knitting facility and cutting and sewing site in South Gate.
Gildan has said it doesn’t intend to use the downtown building. The acquisition of American Apparel included the company’s intellectual property and some of its equipment, but Gildan manufactures most of its products in South America.
At the Hawthorne building, AST said it began hiring workers at the beginning of this year and that it had brought on 15 to 20 former American Apparel workers so far.
“They’re very well-trained and know how to run the equipment we have with an understanding of the dyeing processes,” Rashid said. “I’m sure we’ll hire more of them in the future.”
American Apparel employed 3,457 people in Los Angeles County at the time of its bankruptcy, according to the city of L.A.’s Economic and Workforce Development Department.
In order to deal with the displacement of workers, the city set up rapid-response teams to link resources for the newly unemployed.
“We were on site the day the layoffs were announced, and to date, we’ve helped over 600 American Apparel workers (with) … training in unemployment applications, workshops on skill development, and language classes,” said Jan Perry, general manager at the department.
Steve Bohannon, senior director with Cushman & Wakefield’s industrial brokerage group, was one of the four brokers who represented the landlord in the lease transaction.