Los Angeles fashion has turned a corner. Previously notorious for ultra-embellished designer denim and velour tracksuits (pre-athleisure), the height of LA style now is minimal, natural and artsy. Sexy, too, but like a confident simmer from inside; unabashedly celebratory of the female form without the spackle of the male gaze.
Reformation, the planet-conscious label designed and manufactured in Downtown Los Angeles, is the absolute poster child for the look — as well as its corresponding nonchalant attitude. With witty copy, a solid fan base of cool girls (think Camille Rowe, Alexa Chung, Emily Ratajkowski, Lily Aldridge and more), and a distinct product photography style, the brand is a personality unto itself, only enhanced by its consideration for the environmental impact of making clothes. "I want altruism and narcissism to be combined," founder Yael Aflalo told The New York Times in 2014.
That was a big year for the company, which initially launched in 2008 as a small collection of reworked vintage pieces. Reformation's 2014 profits ($25 million) more than tripled from the previous year ($9 million), and the brand has been growing explosively since. Combining the nimble turnaround time of manufacturing domestically and bucking the fashion calendar for a fast fashion-like delivery schedule, Reformation has been able to amplify its e-commerce business, add brick-and-mortar stores on both coasts and raise an impressive $12 million in funding from backers including Karlie Kloss, Miroslava Duma and Theory's Andrew Rosen.
In addition, the young, female-led company has also produced some impressive alumni — both creative and business types who have moved on from Reformation to start their own fashion businesses. These are the women who saw Reformation through its growth spurt, helped perfect its secret sauce and have taken all that savvy into business ventures of their own. Trust that you're going to want to know these labels sooner than later.
Longtime Reformation designer Lara Pia Arrobio launched LPA in 2016 with Alliance Apparel, which is owned by influencer-beloved retailer Revolve. The brand's "Dolce & Gabbana meets Supreme" aesthetic has all of the sex appeal of Arrobio's previous employer, but in slightly more daring party pieces, like a ponte catsuit with a deep keyhole neckline or a sequin leopard mini skirt. Drawing inspiration from both her California upbringing and young adult years in downtown New York City, LPA has an authentic edge and a honed vision thanks to Arrobio.
Available at LPAtheLabel.com.
Reformation's former fashion director Sarah Staudinger launched Staud in 2015 with her boyfriend and business partner George Augusto. Like Reformation, all of Staud's products are produced in LA, though the look is matured beyond Reformation's sexy sundresses and belly-bearing co-ord sets. From Staud, you'll find color-blocked midi skirts, bell sleeved turtleneck knits and calf-grazing wool coats; nothing too tight, and there's nothing you couldn't get away with at the office. You've probably noticed the brand's standout Bissett bag in your Instagram feed — a small, structured bucket style that's perfectly representative of the new LA in its clean lines and almost sculptural presence.
Available at Staud.Clothing.
Once head designer at Reformation, Briana Lance exited the company in 2015 to launch a minimal menswear line called Basic Rights with business partner Freddie Cowan. [Editor's note: Lance has left Basic Rights and is no longer with the brand.] The label offers a core collection of permanent pieces that reflect the backbone of any modern dude's wardrobe: slim-fitting trousers, a denim jacket and quality sweats. It also does limited collections, featuring more trend-driven pieces, while never venturing too far into the wacko side of #menswear.
Available at BasicRights.com.
Previously COO at Reformation, Jude Al-Khalil brought direct-to-consumer label Bikyni to market in 2015. As you can likely infer from the brand's name, Bikyni is a swimwear line. Everything is made in LA and there is only one price point: $95, covering a top and bottom set (which can be mix and matched by the shopper) or a stylish one-piece.
Available at Bikyni.com.
If you've shopped Reformation's e-commerce long enough, model Christy Dawn should be a familiar face. In late 2013, she launched an eponymous line of mostly dresses — and mostly of modern bohemian ilk — that are reminiscent of the floral, airy garments that she frequently modeled for Reformation. And like Reformation, Christy Dawn (the brand) uses deadstock fabric for its clothes, which are manufactured in LA in small batches by local artisans. The designer's a California native, and her vintage-inspired pieces are meant to evoke that "passed down through the generations" or "I found this at a flea market" vibe.
Available at ChristyDawn.com.