How LA Is Becoming A Major New Fashion Capital
Los Angeles is best known for showbiz, but recent years have seen the fashion industry take a growing interest in the West Coast’s largest city. From the rise of homegrown brands to the luxury European houses choosing it as the location for their runway shows, LA is carving out a prominent spot on the fashion map.
In the past 12 months, Versace, Chanel and Celine have hosted major runway shows in the city. Chanel described its Cruise 2024 collection, presented at the quintessential Hollywood location of Paramount Studios, as ‘hand in hand with the fantasy of faraway voyages and an effortless allure’ of LA. The laidback Californian aesthetic also proved a draw for Italian fashion giant Versace, which showed its AW23 collection not in its usual Milan, but against the backdrop of the Hollywood Hills. These relaxed, off-schedule LA shows are an antidote to the traditional hectic Fashion Weeks of New York, London, Milan and Paris.
It also seems as if LA is shaking off the commercial cliches it was once known for. Casting director Çiçek Michelle Yusuf, who has worked with brands including Moschino and JW Anderson, says: “The fashion scene in LA has experienced significant growth. It’s not just the rise of commercial labels; even high-end brands are leaving their imprint on the city.”
There is an increasing number of new, independent LA brands that are fast becoming industry (and internet) favourites: the It girls’ go-to Miaou; witty slogan tee company OGBFF; independent luxury label Fear of God (which staged its debut show in LA last month); Little Tokyo-based multihyphenate Poche; skatewear brand Stussy; and Marc Jacobs’ little sister label Heaven – its first, and for a long time only, store is on Fairfax Avenue (hailed the ‘Rodeo Drive of streetwear’ by the Los Angeles Times).
The city’s main attraction? It’s the same for both the fashion industry and anyone choosing to move to the West Coast: the lifestyle. “After the pandemic, everyone was searching for sunshine and space and LA offers so much of both,” says Kate Bowman, founder of LA-based independent brand Kitten by Kate. Being based in the city affords younger brands the freedom to cater to Gen Z’s interests – there’s room for wistful creativity, sustainability, representation, intimacy and access.
Bowman explains the importance of an LA base: “I have an incredible team of pattern makers and sewers in Los Angeles. I can’t imagine Kitten without them. I source all our deadstock silks and cottons in LA at my favourite fabric store. This upholds our sustainability mission and keeps me inspired. We are growing organically, shooting in our home studios across LA, New York, London and Paris. I’m excited for what’s to come.” Yusuf adds that LA “offers a cultural hub of influence across the film, art, music, fashion and celebrity scenes. It is enticing for viewers to see such a mix of talent.”
The wide reach of LA’s innovative talent is largely down to social media and influencer culture, which holds intrinsic value in a city like this, where due to the infrastructure there isn’t as much ‘street’ culture, in the literal sense. Social media has been integral to the growth of younger brands – having garments worn by the likes of influencer and model Devon Lee Carlson or actor and model Barbie Ferreira will probably generate more success than paying for traditional lookbooks or storefront rent.
Yusuf suggests this shift in focus is helping to democratise and diversify the industry: “Influencers are the people we look at to sell us stuff. It’s where the cool kids are; not just the rich women of France and London,” she says. “This is creating such a cultural shift in how we are facing the industry with imagery, casting and amplifying new voices. It’s new and exciting.”
5 More Up-And-Coming LA Brands To Know
- Kitten By Kate – Designer Kate has recently expanded her signature sheer, feminine designs to include underwear.
- Oori Ott – Meaning ‘our clothes’ in Korean, this is elevated loungewear made in small quantities using locally sourced fabrics.
- Pretties – A go-to for ’90s nostalgia via ‘baby’ tees and cotton undies.
- Brooke Callahan – The designer started out crafting jewellery and has now branched out into clothing made in LA.
- Tootsie Jewelry – Models Paloma Elsesser and Jordan Daniels have been seen wearing this brand’s fun, handmade statement pieces.
Georgia Moot is a model and writer, based between London and New York. Georgia has written for British Vogue, Refinery29, Browns Fashion and Dazed