An Insider’s Tour of the LA Fashion Scene

The Los Angeles Fashion District is home to thousands of contemporary showrooms and brands.  Often, we hear, “I have a collection; where do I go to sell it?” Or, “I want to expand on the West Coast. Where do I start?”

Here’s a virtual guide to give you insights to the LA Fashion District, Market Week, trade shows and showrooms to save you time and access the right venues without any confusion. Whether you have an existing collection, you’re just starting out or you’re a fully realized retailer, you can have the insider expertise at your fingertips to be transformative with your brand growth. 

LA Fashion District

Start at the intersection of 9th Street and Main Street to get your bearings, and face east in downtown Los Angeles. The Fashion District is home to a large number of contemporary apparel and accessories. There are no less than 1,200 showrooms representing 4,500 lines. The actual district is made of approximately 100 blocks, and the surrounding areas are where you’ll find manufacturers, suppliers and other industry-related providers.

Buildings & Showrooms

They’re the biggest closets you’ll ever see, and they have the most fantastic clothing! The showrooms in downtown Los Angeles have a variety of collections, from contemporary women’s, men’s, kids’, junior apparel and more. Inside are notable brands and emerging brands, so they can be an exciting place for all to treasure hunt for uniqueness, creativity and color.

The New Mart, Cooper Design Space, California Market Center and Gerry Building have been traditionally recognized as “the intersection.” These are buildings filled with showrooms at the corners of 9th and Los Angeles Streets. They are the headquarters of LA creatives and contemporary showrooms. Once you are in the environment, you will quickly start to feel creative as you get inside and see the work.

The Cooper Design Space embraces LA lifestyle businesses related to fashion, as well as publishing studios and media arts. Step inside to the beautiful pre-war building to be inspired by the art deco style. The management of the building cares about the business of the contemporary showrooms and brands, working alongside them to make for a successful market and environment for buying and selling. During market week, buyers must provide their business cards to gain entry.

The Cooper Building is the home of Brand Assembly and other concurrent trade show events during LA Market Week. It’s also home to Market Café. Across the street, you’ll find the New Mart, another pre-war building home to fashion’s contemporary showrooms. The space is known as one of the most sought-after locations for fashion buyers around the globe, and it carries 1,000 collections. The New Mart is the home to Designers & Agents (D&A)trade show.

Everything will look nice and new at the California Market Center (CMC) in 2020, as a major expansion is underway. This building is generally known as the epicenter of the LA Fashion Market. While the showrooms and offices inside have been shifting locations, it remains home to LA Fashion Week, Label Array trade show, Men’s Market and other events. The California Market Center is a space that gives you access to a broad range of buyers with varying price points and targets buyers of all levels.

Trade Shows

Season to season, shows may change names and shift managers, yet the blueprint is consistent. You’ll find D&A at New Mart, Label Array at the CMC and Brand Assembly at the Cooper Design Space penthouse.

The curated D&A showcases contemporary artistic and boutique brands with a following of a community. It’s upbeat, airy, modern, and holds an elevated price point that draws a specific high-end luxury shop. It’s been known to build brands. As a curated show, the clean and fresh environment with fun music and snacks keeps you energized throughout. It’s focused point of view is in women’s ready-to-wear, accessories and lifestyle. Each season, D&A presents over 300 brands from the United States, Europe, Japan and other regions.

Another curated show is Brand Assembly. There, the vibe is eclectic, with open spaces for an immersive experience. It’s a mix of elevated and everyday cool brands from all over the globe. You’ll find brands like Beach Bunny Swimwear, Mattisee Footwear, Gorjana Jewelry and Rebecca Minkoff.

The CMC is always evolving. Its most current show is Label Array, which offers a mix of apparel fashion brands and shows. It’s a good point for many brands who have large collections or fast-fashion retailers that are not as price- and luxury-sensitive. You’ll find new brands like Reck-less and Sheila Simone, as well as popular show collections, such as Chinese Laundry, catering to a wide variety of price points and aesthetics.

Another show at the CMC building to keep in mind is the Men’s Market Week, which runs concurrent with LA Market. There is also the bi-annual Textile Show, a great place to source fabrics and suppliers, while taking in talks from trend sourcing companies, associations and market leaders.

Daniella Platt is a publicity, business and sales consultant with Looking Good Yaya. She is based in Los Angeles, California.