The $79.99 Suit District

Yesterday morning, I took a visiting college friend to the Fashion District, via a circuitious route through Silverlake, Echo Park, Angelino Heights, Elysian Park, Chinatown and Little Tokyo. My friends from Vancouver all seem to be infected with the Bay Area virus that causes them to see L.A. as a hellhole, so I have to prove that we do have some lovely parks, we do have some beautiful neighborhoods, and L.A. isn’t all pre-fab malls and chain stores.

So we eventually got down to the Fashion / Toy District border zones, and parked at Los Angeles and Fourth, and started walking. And after we passed the tenth store offering men’s multi-piece suits for under $100, my friend remarked, “Is this place all stores just selling the same thing?”

“Mostly,” I said. “Wait until you see the twenty stores all selling the same cheap shoes.”

My friend then pointed out a very valid question – is there really so much of a demand for these items that all the fashion district stores are able to make a profit, selling the same items for similar prices? How is it that a dozen stores, all selling the same pimpin’ suits, manage to make a living? And, more importantly, if we had a suit district, and a shoe district, and a toy district – did we have a hammock district?

That said, I love Santee Alley. We found LED belt buckles, and faux-rhinestone’d 50 Cent logo bling necklaces, and knockoff Adidas sneakers. And it’s a total wake up call, that a LOT more of the world’s urban population shops in places like Santee Alley, or Broadway, than in places like 7th & Fig. And it’s the largest source of bootleg Chanel purses outside Canal Street in North America, so I’m just waiting until this year’s purse trends hit the stalls to go buy one.

How many people go to the Fashion District from the Westside or the Valley or the other mall-based, middle class areas of L.A. though? Most of my friends haven’t ever been down there. It’s not like it’s a really scary neighborhood or anything, but it just doesn’t seem to register as existing. Am I too far Westside, or is this part of town overlooked by most of the L.A. population that usually keeps their shopping to malls?

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9 Replies to “The $79.99 Suit District”

  1. The best part about the fashion district are the secret stores where you can buy real (not fake) merch like 7 Jeans, etc. directly from… well it’s not clear, but it’s less then 1/2 the price.

  2. I can’t speak for too many people, but most of the people I hang out with regularly have been there and continue to go. I was under the impression that it wasn’t necessarily a consumer oriented endeavor, though. I thought it was more like the Flower District, where store owners went to buy stock and stuff. Maybe I’m wrong.

  3. I went a couple years ago with a couple family members who were visiting after having moved out of the LA area for about 10 years. They hated the experience, and all they could say was, “This is why we moved out of California…” Although I haven’t been back since, I would like to go again. I loved my knock-off Kate Spade that I got for $20!

  4. I went a couple years ago with a couple family members who were visiting after having moved out of the LA area for about 10 years. They hated the experience, and all they could say was, “This is why we moved out of California…” Although I haven’t been back since, I would like to go again. I loved my knock-off Kate Spade that I got for $20!

  5. I think the real merchandise, um, “fell off a truck” – but yeah, I”ve been to those stores.

    And there is a lot of wholesale dealers, but there are also a LOT of storefronts where consumers can buy individual pieces directly. The prices aren’t always that low though – some of the stores are only slightly lower than the local mall that the same clothing goes to.

  6. The best thing about the fashion district is going to the New Mart, Cooper Building and the California Mart on the last friday of the month, when they are open to the public. The marts are where designers have their showrooms and usually have sample sales once a month. I can’t tell you the number of real designer pieces I have gotten for 60-80% off retail and sometimes below wholesale.

  7. Being proud of purchasing knock offs, stolen goods AND supporting retailers and manufacturers that do not abide by any of the California labor and wage laws…… NICE! In addition, 99.9% of all the imported crap for sale in that area is transshiped.

    Sorry to be the party pooper. But, by shopping in that district you are supporting local, illegal sweatshops and illegaly imported goods.

    Pat yourselves on the backs and go make another inexpensive purchase. Don’t forget to wave to the sub minimum wage workers on the second floor.

  8. I live at the intersection of the Toy, Flower, Fashion, and Skid Row districts in Downtown LA. On Saturdays especially my neighborhood is totally packed with shoppers, mostly latino who buy linens, and clothing by the bag load. They are not all there to buy knockoff or stolen items, just items they can afford.

  9. I’m well aware that many of the goods produced in that area are made in sweatshop conditions – but like eecue says – it’s what people can afford. And – this is even worse – I’d rather see it go to those sweatshops in downtown L.A. than to a Wal-Mart or a Target and their overseas sweatshops and community-destroying megalithic stores.

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