Los Angeles Garment District

  • 01 of 03

    What You Need to Know About the LA Fashion District.

    Shopping in the Los Angeles Garment District
    ©Betsy Malloy Photography

    Its official name is the Fashion District, but most people call it the Los Angeles Garment District. No matter which name you use, it's the same place. And it's better than Rodeo Drive if you're looking for cutting-edge fashions at a discount and not celebrity-spotting.

    The Los Angeles Fashion District spans 100 blocks, with more than 2,000 stores and warehouses selling fashions and accessories at 30% to 70% off retail prices. More than three-fourths of the businesses in the district are wholesalers, but that sill leaves enough places for you to shop until you drop.

    The Fashion District can be intimidating. I know because I avoided it for years. What a mistake! Here's what I have learned since then.

    You need a map, and you need to be prepared. Don't even think you can explore 90 blocks of shopping with that. You can download a map here. Use this business directory to narrow down the overwhelming list of stores. You can choose the type of clothing you're looking for and select retail businesses only. You may still have to do some digging to find styles and hours and not all of the stores have websites, but a list of 20 is a lot more manageable than a list of 2,000.

    Saturdays are the busiest Los Angeles Garment District shopping days when some of the wholesale-only shops open to the general public.

    Designer showrooms in the Los Angeles Garment District hold sample sales the last Friday of the month, especially at California Market Center (110 E. 9th) and New Mart (127 E. 9th), selling one-of-a-kind pieces and overstocks. Most take cash only, and the samples are limited to sizes 2 to 4. Sample sales don't happen during market weeks. You can get more details about sample sales here.

    Continue to 2 of 3 below.
  • 02 of 03

    Getting the Most Out of the Los Angeles Fashion District

    Michael Levine Fabric Store in the LA Fashion District
    Katie Schumm/Flickr/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    To help you explore the garment district, the Los Angeles Fashion District website offers helpful tips. For info on the street, look for the bicycle-riding, yellow-shirted Safe Team, who can help with questions or anything else.

    A few tips may help you enjoy the Los Angeles Fashion District:

    • Restrooms are scarce. Use them when you find them.
    • Dress casually in clothing that's easy to take on and off
    • Try everything on and check it for flaws. That being said, most stores don't have formal dressing rooms. Dress like you're going to be in that junior high gym locker room you hated so much.
    • Bring cash to get the best prices. It's all some of the stores will accept - and it's OK to bargain: How much for this? What if I buy this, too? What if I pay cash? And dress down to get the best leverage.
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  • 03 of 03

    Santee Alley Discount Shops and How to Get There

    Santee Alley in the LA Fashion District
    Neon Tommy/Flickr/(CC BY-SA 2.0

    The retail shopping epicenter of the Garment District is Santee Alley, an actual alley between Santee Street and Maple Avenue. It starts on Olympic Boulevard and is two blocks long. Santee Alley is where you'll find low prices, lots of knock-offs and fakes. It's even open on some holidays.

    Other Bargains Near the Los Angeles Garment District

    The Flower Market is on Wall Street between 7th and 8th. For sparkly things, try the Jewelry District at 640 S. Hill.

    How to Get to the LA Fashion District

    Los Angeles Fashion District Website
    Typical hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

    Shopping nirvana is bounded by I-10, 7th St, San Pedro St and Broadway (more or less). Two of the most popular destinations are the California Market Center (110 E. 9th) and New Mart (127 E. 9th). Santee Alley is between Olympic and Pico Boulevards. To find parking at a reasonable price, try the app ParkMe.

    Set your GPS to 300 East 9th Street, which is the Starbucks at the corner of 9th and Santee. The nearest parking lots are at 1000 Maple Avenue and 929 Wall Street and it's best to use them to avoid potential parking tickets. There are no Metro stations nearby, but downtown DASH bus routes D and E run through it.