There's no occasion quite like the Fourth of July to celebrate all things American. Here at Fashionista, we'll be spending the week examining the fashion industry in our own backyard, from the state of U.S. apparel manufacturing to American-born models on the rise. You can follow all of our coverage here.
Los Angeles is not only home to the biggest apparel manufacturing hub in the United States, but it's also where some of the coolest under-the-radar clothing lines do business these days. Distanced from the pressures, expenses and competitiveness of working in New York and participating in the New York Fashion Week rat race, these creatives are designing on their own terms — releasing new pieces when and where they see fit and often prioritizing ethical, local production and a sustainable personal lifestyle.
With the exception of Rodarte, most made-in-LA brands aren't trying to stand up against the fashion-month big guns on a runway. Instead, they're focused on creating well-crafted pieces people actually want to wear, at price points that many of us can actually afford.
That's all to say, Reformation isn't the only brand making really cool, wearable clothes in LA. Here are 15 labels you should know about if you don't already, each of which manufacture the vast majority — if not all — of their garments in the city of angels.
American Apparel alums Iris Alonzo and Carolina Crespo, the fabled LA-based company's creative director and director of graphics and kids', respectively, launched Everybody in November of 2016. The ethical, made-in-LA brand is built on inclusivity and collaboration: The founders ask collaborators, who range from famous models to friends to stylish strangers, to describe one item they feel is missing from their closet, and they make it.
Haley Boyd has been designing her minimalist, affordable, mostly-direct-to-consumer shoe line since 2009, but she recently moved all her production from China to LA, where she relocated herself from New York. For chic, understated, low-heeled sandals in dreamy colors that are made in the U.S., Marais is a go-to. And both her personal Instagram and that of the brand are full of style inspiration. Case in point: I know about several of these brands because they were on her Instagram.
Jesse Kamm is best known for her Kamm pants, essentially the perfect high-waisted, cropped, wide (but not too wide)-leg pant. The former model, who claims to have worked 28 different jobs since age 12, has expanded the style to include various colors and fabrics, a tapered cut and a short. Her brand’s been around for 10 years but remains purposefully small, perhaps a reflection of this wise, resonant line in her bio: "In my life, I know that I deserve to be a sane person."
London-born, Denmark-bred and LA-based designer Jemma Swatek combines all of these cultures in her unfussy line Lykke Wulf. It's full of practical, cool-girl wardrobe staples like high-waisted, flared overalls, similarly shaped pants, crisp shorts and easy summer dresses.
One of fashion's best-known LA-based handbag designers (I, for one, can't name another one), Clare Vivier combines a Parisian charm with a casual, Southern California sensibility for her (almost) eponymous line of pared-down pouches, totes, top handles and other fun, functional little accessories. The CFDA member also operates a great boutique in LA's hip Silverlake neighborhood.
Calle del Mar
Designer Aza Ziegler is one of those rare success stories of someone launching their line right out of design school. Her designs are a tad more fun, colorful and distinctive than what we typically see coming out of LA but still have a wearable, breezy California vibe. All products are not only made in LA, but also made in women-owned and women-run factories using ethically sourced fabrics.
Isadora Alvarez started her brand by selling highly coveted vintage T-shirts and evolved into making her own unfussy cotton tees, sweatshirts, dresses and jumpsuits inspired by California surf and skate culture. They evoke the same effortlessly cool vibe that a vintage tee often does, are made in a small, family-run factory and, best of all, are incredibly affordable: Nothing costs more than $70.
Known for her elevated, shredded T-shirts, Raquel Allegra has expanded her line to include languid, effortlessly cool separates and dresses with a worn-in feel. Everything, with the exception of some knitwear, is made in LA, and her wares are available everywhere from Barneys and Net-a-Porter to Shopbop and Revolve, in addition to her dreamy LA flagship on 3rd Street.
Inspired by Japanese fabrication and modern American craftsmanship, Daniel Corrigan launched Simon Miller as a men's denim brand in 2008 and it has since expanded to include a female co-creative director, women's denim, a full ready-to-wear collection that often shows at New York Fashion Week and those adorable little Bonsai bags that have inspired many a copycat. The clothes are classic, understated and wearable on top of being beautifully made in the U.S. — primarily in LA. Find the line at Barneys, Nordstrom, Opening Ceremony and more.
Annie Costello Brown
A recent favorite of the street-style/Insta-famous set, Annie Costello Brown designs distinctive, special, artistic statement earrings that still feel wearable. Everything is handmade and available through her e-commerce site.
Shaina Mote launched her eponymous line back in 2012, but she's slowly garnering more attention thanks to expansion into new categories like knitwear and swim and recent celebrity credits that include Selena Gomez and Dakota Johnson. (Clearly Kate Young is a fan.) Like so many LA labels she provides cool, timeless wardrobe staples, but with her own distinctive twist and special attention paid to construction and fit. The brand is stocked by only the coolest retailers: Bird, Need Supply, The Dreslyn, Totokaelo and so on.
Sofia Coppola is a fan of minimalist-chic line Calder Blake, and that's pretty much all the convincing we need to confirm it's a label you should know about. Designer Amanda Blake, formerly of Joie, launched it in 2013 and focuses on understated, functional pieces like T-shirts made ethically from locally sourced, natural fibers.
This brand's generally ideal slide sandals — with a hidden thong to keep the foot from sliding — are what initially caught our attention. Jessica Taft Langdon, after working for a number brands including Coach, Proenza Schouler and Everlane, decided to launch a handmade shoe line that reflected her personal aesthetic after finding "a small enclave of footwear craftspeople and factories" in southern California. While still small, the line has expanded to also include slingback heels, mules and more.
"Dreamy" is the word I would use to describe Lily Ashwell's designs. Her vintage-inspired bias-cut slipdresses, linen overalls, silky camisoles and baby tees will make you feel like one of the beautiful, ethereal, Venice-dwelling yogis who shop at her Rose Avenue boutique, no matter your actual location and lifestyle. It's also one of the best resources for girls who like the Reformation aesthetic but don't want to own the same things as all of their friends.
Formerly one half of the creative dup behind Vena Cava, Sophie Buhai launched her namesake jewelry line in 2015. Fashion girls were quick to take notice of her handmade, sculptural signature silver pieces and so were retailers: She's stocked in Dover Street Market, Bergdorf Goodman, Net-a-Porter, The Line and more.
Homepage photo: Instagram/@maraisusa