75 Fashionable L.A. Leads Nation’s Retail Scene
LOS ANGELES a Los Angeles, for years overshadowed by New York and Paris in the world of haute couture, is now coming into its own as the unofficial seamstress to the casually clad masses, industry insiders say.
OThe L.A. market clothes America,O said Sue Scheiman,
vice president of marketing and leasing for CaliforniaMart, the largest wholesale apparel center in the nation and traditionally the hub of the Southern California fashion industry.
OIf you take a look at how America is dressing, it’s L.A. that’s setting the style. People are buying clothes that highlight the L.A. lifestyle,O she added, describing a clothing style that is comfortable and breezy, and filled with the colors of sun and sand.
OWeOre trendy without the haute couture price tag.O Describing the L.A. fashion industry as a $20 billion
enterprise, Scheiman said more clothing is manufactured in Los Angeles than in any other region of the United States, Oincluding New York.O
And even some clothing manufactured elsewhere is
influenced by Los Angeles, thanks to the impact of Hollywood.
Alan Millstein, editor and publisher of the New Yorkbased fashion trade monthly, The Fashion Network Report, noted that Los Angeles has long been home to the swim and beach wear industry.
These days, he added, Othere have been some explosive companies that have had an important impact on the youth market,O as well as in better sportswear. He mentioned brand names like All that Jazz and Carole Little, both well-known clothiers that call L.A. home and are among those responsible for defining and popularizing the OL.A. look.O
What this means to the savvy shopper visiting Los Angeles is access and value: access to a world of shopping choices and the value of buying directly from the source.
Throughout Los Angeles, retail outlets from trendy
boutiques to upscale department stores offer up a wide variety of shopping finds, many of them made in L.A. And to complement those styles, merchants offer au courant imports from around the globe.
On Rodeo Drive, one of the world’s most glamorous shopping streets, for example, the well-heeled buy shoes from Cole-Haan, suits from Giorgio Armani, luggage from Louis Vuitton and jewelry from the largest Tiffany & Co. store outside of New York.
And even though they aren’t home-grown, the big-name couturiers are represented here, from Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent to Ralph Lauren.
Los Angeles is also famous for its malls, thanks to Hollywood. From upscale shopping centers frequented by stars, like the Beverly Center, to the giant Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance, there are 49 malls in Los Angeles Countyaenough to satisfy nearly every shopperOs taste.
For shoppers on a budget, the Los Angeles area has a
host of dollar-stretching options, starting with the Fashion District (formerly dubbed the Garment District). Situated just south and east of the skyscrapers of Downtown, the Fashion District is a big draw for shoppers who enjoy the hunt. The watchword here is stamina.
In the heart of the district is CaliforniaMart, which
houses a staggering 1,200 showrooms in 1.4 million square feet of showroom space. Primarily a wholesale market, the Mart is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the last Friday of each month for sample sales. There is no admission fee but shoppers need to walk each floor to find out who is having a sale. The Mart also hosts sales from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on the last Saturday of the month in the Exhibit Hall on the lower level. Admission is $1.
For those whose tastes lean more to punk than pumps, there’s the ever-funky Melrose Avenue. It may not offer as much intrigue as TVOs Melrose Place, but it does offer an off-beat, high-energy mix of shops and restaurants. Come for the spandex, stay for the people-watching.
Elsewhere in the heart of the city, you’ll find the enclave of Leimert Park, where artisans of African descent offer up a colorful collection of clothing (beautiful brocade robes) and artwork (like a mosaic-tiled homage to Dizzy Gillespie) as well as African masks and statues.
Greater L.A. is one of the few places where you can
combine shopping with year-round sun, sea and sand. And one particularly popular spot is Santa Monica, where shoppers will find three of the hottest shopping streets around.
On the north side of the city, Montana Avenue is home
to antique and home-furnishing stores. Think country, think chintz.
Main Street, south of the Santa Monica Freeway, once
an industrial and warehouse area, is now packed with clothing stores, cafes and more home-furnishing stores. All cater to a young-though-not-overly-hip crowd.
The new kid on the block (actually it’s on three
blocks) is Santa MonicaOs 3rd Street Promenade. Turned into a pedestrian mall by the city, the promenade has become a town square where people come on evenings and weekends to stroll, browse in the book stores, sip cappuccinos and, of course, shop. Think eclectic (and in some shops risqu & #196;).
Just down the coast is Venice Beach: another off-beat
shopping strip that’s also a prime hang-out for the perpetually muscle-bound and for street performers. Venice Beach (the official name is Ocean Front Walk), is known as a bargain-hunterOs paradise, sort of a year-round street fair. Think cut-rate T-shirts, knock-off designer handbags and scads of sunglass styles.
ItOs where youOll find the OCalifornia lookO live and