Heck, we’ve written a lot about them and now the company is no longer Mr. Charney’s. The New York Times reports they’ve been sold to a private equity firm for nearly $400 million smackers. That’s a lot of smackers, but clearly somebody feels there’s plenty of untapped potential there.

American Apparel, the casual clothing chain whose socially-conscious manufacturing, sexually-charged advertising and snug-fitting T-shirts have generated a cult-like following, will be sold to a little-known investment firm for $382.5 million, according to people briefed on the matter.

The decision to sell the privately held company, expected to be announced tomorrow, is a surprise move by the company’s eccentric founder, Dov Charney, who is known for exercising strict, and at times controversial, control over the retailer’s operations.

Mr. Charney has personally photographed many of the semi-naked women featured in American Apparel advertising and is known for hiring employees, most of them female, on the spot during phone calls or at parties.

American Apparel’s buyer, Endeavor Acquisition Corporation, is a small, publicly traded investment group created last year, with less than $125 million in assets. American Apparel is the firm’s first acquisition.. Endeavor Acquisition was founded as a specified purpose acquisition company by Jonathan J. Ledecky, a serial acquirer who started U.S. Office Products in 1994 and turned it into a Fortune 500 company.

Mr. Charney, 37, will remain chief executive after the sale, according to people with direct knowledge of the deal, who discussed the transaction on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly.

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