There’s a cool, creative part of Downtown Los Angeles near Hotel Figueroa that’s visited by one and half million people annually – the Fashion District. And though we all know it’s there (it’s 100 blocks, so it’s impossible not to), it’s a mystery to many of us who live here, and especially to those who don’t.
THE FASHION DISTRICT
Spanning eight city blocks from East 8th to East 16th, and bookended by Santee Street and Central Avenue, the Fashion District is the go-to spot for wholesale buyers, retail shoppers, designers, fashion students and stylists. It’s a true microcosm of the mix across LA, fueled by the creativity that makes this city tick.
Insiders know the Fashion District near our hotel in Downtown LA as a bargain hunter’s paradise. Store after store of shockingly affordable styles, sold to the public at wholesale prices (to translate, that’s, like, up to 70% off retail prices). With more than 1,000 stores peddling styles within reach, you can do some serious damage here on a budget. Of course, the key to emerging with stuff that looks expensive is to know what you’re looking for and cherry pick the right pieces. That’s what so many of Hollywood’s stylists do to save major studio productions money—and you can definitely borrow a page from their sneaky book. But you won’t find any stores you recognize from the mall. Here it’s indie, indie, indie.
The District in Downtown LA is kinda famous for Santee Alley, because it’s like a shopping fiesta 365 days a year (yes, even holidays). More than 150 stores are packed into one tiny area, so you can easily spend an afternoon window hopping (see what I did there?). And yes, it’s an actual alley, located between Santee and Maple Avenue. You won’t find couture here—but you can find some pretty rad gifts and accessories to grab as souvenirs from your trip while staying at our Downtown Los Angeles hotel. And you’ll still have dough to spend where it really counts. Like one of the many amazing Downtown LA restaurants that have the potential to be life-changing.
I don’t know about you guys, but nothing excites me quite like these two words. Sample sale. Yup, chills. This is your chance to score some seriously chic finds for next to nothing. But the catch is… you’ve gotta be in-the-know. You can’t just knock on doors and demand to see the goods. Tucked away inside almost every Downtown LA wholesale showroom are secret-squirrel designer showrooms. We’re talking world-class, contemporary styles—the kind of stuff you’ll see on the big screen or on the pages of a magazine. Most of the time, these rooms are off-limits for the general public (yes, I know that sounds so shameful, but that’s me and you, darling). Except for the last Friday of the month. To quote Lloyd Christmas in Dumb And Dumber, “So you’re telling me there’s chance!” You can try to infiltrate by building (The California Market Center, Gerry Building, Cooper Design Center and The New Mart all hold hours), or you can try and raid the designers themselves. Little known fact: I spent years working in the fashion industry in LA, and found out that designers hold their own “warehouse” sale every season. So if your favorite designer is LA-based, you could end up with the haul of a lifetime if the stars align.
If you’re a do-er more than a buyer, then this is definitely for you. The DTLA Fashion District boasts this amazing claim to fame: it’s the largest selection of textiles in the United States. Um, whaaaat? About 200 stores’ worth, to be exact. You can scoop up all the trim, beading, fabric, crafts and home décor that your little arms can carry. And unlike Santee Alley, there’s a huge range of quality, from novelty patterns to beautiful silks—and you’ll spend anything from 99 cents to a few hundred bucks per yard. But can you imagine all the choices? This is like Willy Wonka for crafty people.
Throughout the Downtown LA fashion district, designer boutiques are everywhere, nestled between stalls and in buildings that definitely don’t look like they’d hold a trove of high-end duds. There are way too many to name, but there’s a few that stylists are particularly excited about. Check out newly opened Dimepiece in the Merchant Exchange building, the street-style designer’s first brick-and-mortar. The edgy women’s line has outfitted everyone from girl groups to Cara Delevingne. It’s by appointment, just FYI. Also check out Swedish-bred Acne Studios on South Broadway near our DTLA hotel (the designer’s largest shop in the world at 5,000-square-feet which also happens to house a giant mushroom), Virgo Downtown on East 9Th for a little bit of affordable vintage heaven and celeb-favorite ready-to-wear French label A.P.C. on West 9th. From the minimalist to the A-list, there’s a little something for everyone if you know where to go.
100 blocks. 1,000+ stores.
‘Til Next Time,