Los Angeles Garment District

Ball gowns in the LA Fashion District

Trip Savvy / Kayte Deioma

The Los Angeles Fashion District (Los Angeles Garment District) is better than Rodeo Drive if you're looking for cutting-edge fashions at a discount.

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 still leaves enough places for you to shop until you drop.

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What You Need to Know About the LA Fashion District.

Shopping in the Los Angeles Garment District
©Betsy Malloy Photography

How to Survive the Fashion District

The Fashion District can be intimidating. Many people avoid it. What a mistake! Others leave feeling overwhelmed and disappointed, which is why you need this guide, so that doesn't happen to you.

You need a map, and you need to get prepared before. Don't even think you can explore 90 blocks of shopping without a good map and don't try to use your mobile phone's map. It simply doesn't have enough information. Instead, download a map at the Fashion District website.

Now sit down and do your homework. Narrow the overwhelming list of stores before you go by using the Fashion District business directory. 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 the list of 20 or so you'll end up with is a lot more manageable than a list of 2,000.

When to Go to the Fashion ​District

Saturday is the busiest Los Angeles Garment District shopping day. And the only day when some of the wholesale-only shops open to the general public. Typical business hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., but that varies. Some stores are also open on Sunday Most Santee Alley shops open by 9:30 a.m. and close by 6 p.m., seven days a week.

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, including hours which are shorter than you might think.

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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

For helpful tips about your shopping adventure, try the Los Angeles Fashion District website. If you need info while you're there, look for the bicycle-riding, yellow-shirted Safe Team, who can help with questions or anything else.

These few tips may also 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.
  • Leave your expensive jewelry at home and dress down to get the best leverage for bargaining.
  • 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 class 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, asking questions like: How much for this? What if I buy this, too? What if I pay cash? 
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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 an actual alley between Santee Street and Maple Avenue called Santee Alley. 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, the Jewelry District is at 640 S. Hill.

How to Get to the LA Fashion District

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. Set your GPS to 300 East 9th Street, which is the Starbucks at the corner of 9th and Santee. 

It's best to use a parking lot to avoid potential citations. The nearest parking lots to the shopping areas are at 1000 Maple Avenue and 929 Wall Street. To find parking at a reasonable price, try the app ParkMe.

There are no Metro stations nearby, but downtown DASH bus routes D and E run through it.

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