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Los Angeles: The Garment District

If the tag on your clothing reads made in Los Angeles, they more than likely come from the Fashion District. Hollywood costume departments have custom outfits made for starlets and A-Listers in the Fashion District alongside kids from the Valley looking for an affordable suit for the prom. Just about anything under the sun can be found in the Fashion District, making it a must-visit for fashionistas and history buffs alike.

The Fashion District was once known as The Garment District until it became LA’s first Business Improvement District (BID), which led to revitalization and an entire squad of yellow-shirted helpers to keep the district safe, but that didn’t change the layout. The Fashion District is made up of winding alleys of varying lengths and widths laid out upon blocks that would look at home among the ancient streets of Europe. Spanning an area encompassing 90 blocks of southeast downtown, the district is divided into four quadrants, each with a different, specialized focus. Much like a department store, the district has men’s, women’s and kid’s wear and an entire section of blocks devoted to textiles.

Though it serves as an under-the-radar bragging rights location to visit on your next vacation, keep in mind that it’s a working district, too. Many manufacturers call the Fashion District home, as do many Angelinos who have recently moved into the district looking for a unique and inexpensive place to live. American Apparel, whose billboards read “sweatshop free, made in downtown Los Angeles” can make that claim because their factory is in the Fashion District, as well as what might as well be an American Apparel outlet, where discounted goods can be had.

In the Santee Alley, bargaining is encouraged – there’s no better place in Los Angeles to stretch that cash, where shopkeepers are willing to make deals on bulk purchases. Keep your eyes on the calendar, especially for events occurring at the California Market Center. Every couple of months, Unique L.A., a show dedicated to the craft people who live and work in Los Angeles, arrives with handcrafted goods, clothing, artwork and even gourmet food. Buttons, zippers, ties; whatever. If you’re looking for it, it’ll be in The Fashion District. Step onto the streets of this fashion bazaar in downtown Los Angeles and experience the history and bargains LA is becoming well known for.

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