While Los Angeles may not be Paris or Milan or have the recognition New York City has as a hub during fashion week, L.A.’s fashion industry is the largest in the United States. That’s a fact fashion designers all over the world are taking notice of!
The shadow cast by New York City’s fashion industry fades even more when it is considered that LA employs nearly twice the number of people in the fashion industry as New York City! The fashion industry in Los Angeles county accounts for 77,512 jobs (120,000 by some sources) in apparel, wholesale and textile compared to 47,069 in NYC. Move over New York.
Los Angeles is currently home to over 3,770 independent fashion designers, many of whom operate out of the the thriving Los Angeles Fashion District. Given, a lot of these designers down in the Fashion District are startups fighting their way to the top in a cut-throat competitive industry, but many of the major brands are located here as well… with more deciding to move their operations to Los Angeles every year.
Some of the best known fashion labels located in LA are: Guess, Seven For All Mankind, American Apparel and J Brand all of which have been here for some time. Then Paris moved to LA in 2012 when Saint Laurent’s Creative Director, Hedi Slimane, relocated the high end French fashion house to LA. Other designers have followed.
Fashion Week in Los Angeles is an over the top star studded affair with multi-brand runway shows being produced twice a year by four major production & event houses. These are: Art Hearts Fashion, LA Fashion Week (LAFW), Style Fashion Week, and Fashion Week LA (FWLA). The city also hosts major runway shows on behalf of individual major fashion labels such as Tommy Hilfiger and numerous smaller runway shows for start up fashion designers.
This hasn’t gone unnoticed by the rest of the fashion industry. The domination of London, Milan and Paris when it comes to Fashion Week is now being shared with other cities such as Stockholm, Copenhagen, and New York. More recently all eyes seem to be on Los Angeles. With elite designers such as Tom Ford, Tommy Hilfiger and Rebecca Minkoff moving toward the West Coast, LA Fashion Week is garnering more attention every year. 2107 saw a major shift in designers not only moving their fashion week shows from New York City to Los Angeles, but opening up new retail stores in the sunny city as well.
One reason behind the move to LA is that many designers feel that when their densest concentration of customers is located in Los Angeles, it makes good sense to increase their presence here.
Fashion designers aren’t the only ones packing their bags and heading west. A couple of years ago headlines appeared in all the major publication on the number of advertising and other creative agencies moving their operations to Los Angeles. A 2015 article in Ad Age describes how the steady stream of creatives moving from New York to LA became a flood. It cites the lure of sun, fun and opportunity in the headline, but those that made the move give a number of other sound reasons.
The only thing about this shift to the West Coast that doesn’t make sense is why it took so long. Los Angeles has long been the entertainment and creative capitol of the world. Internationally it is also one of the most supportive cities of the arts. Movies, art, fashion and, yes, even advertising share a symbiotic relationship tied together by creativity. While I don’t believe Paris, Milan, London and New York will ever really dim, it just makes good sense for the fashion industry to make Los Angeles, the city where the supporting industries they need are so dominant, a more significant part of their operations.
Photo credit: Mark Stout Photography
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