I really don’t like buying clothes. I don’t consider myself a fashionable person. The number one of the reasons I don’t like buying clothes is because it is expensive. Second, I am not really sure these days where my clothes come from. And finally, I find the clothes shopping experience a rather dull experience. Losing weight however has forced me to overlook these differences and find new clothes.
The last time I bought a suit I went to the Men’s Warehouse. I got a grey suit and an extra coat for about $500 dollars. It was a good suit, but being the klutz that I am, I ended up ripping up the pocket of the suit. Not once, but twice! I was able to get it tailored the first time, but by the second time it looked pretty bad. A short while later I got lucky and my father-in-law gave me once of his old suits. I wore that for awhile, but soon I lost so much weight that it too didn’t look right. Doing some research I started to read up on some seemingly unbelievable deals in downtown Los Angeles. Suits for as low as $50 dollars, dress shirts for $10, and could a silk shirt really be sold for only $20?!? I knew there had to be a catch, but the prices were so low that I felt I had to at least check it out.
The main business for the LA Fashion District is retailers. Clothes, fabrics, electronics, toys, etc. come in from the nearby San Pedro Docks and the wholesalers store them in the LA Fashion District.Monday through Friday most of the stores in the LA Fashion District are only open to retailers, but on Saturdays some of the wholesalers open to the public. This over the years has spurred a mass open market like event in downtown Los Angeles. Armed with a map that I downloaded off the Internet I soon found out that the LA Fashion District is laid out like a giant department store (as if department stores were 10×10 blocks wide). All the the stores of a like type are conveniently grouped together. If you want men’s suits you go to the men’s suits row. If you want kids wear there are five blocks of stores waiting for you, etc., etc. In addition to wholesalers, there are also weekend retailers that setup makeshift shops within the alleyways. The two biggest alleys are called the Santee Alley and the New Alley. It was interesting talking to all the sellers. Basically you find out that almost anything you thought was made in the USA is really not. Not that I didn’t know that, but it is interesting to find out how much a label really costs.
Going to the LA Fashion District is far from a dull experience. If you can’t stand crowds and don’t like pushy salespeople I suggest you stay far from this place. However, if you are the ultimate shopper, want a lively cultural experience, and are not afraid to haggle, THIS is the place for you! As I stated before, mostly due to the price, the LA Fashion District is bustling with people. There is street level parking, but it is virtually impossible to find. In our case we settled for $5 dollar all day lot parking. The majority of the shoppers were Hispanic, but I saw people from almost every slice of California (which is to say almost everywhere). Most of the stuff you buy from the street sellers is very cheap knock off stuff, but the wholesalers had some really nice quality goods. There was food, there were music, there were lights. It was a lot of sensory overload, but it was fun.
So, the main question is how did we make out. Well, my main objective in this expedition was a new suit. I ended up buying a Caravelli Black two button classic suit from a store called Al Weiss Inc. The label said Italian suit, but looking closely at the label and speaking with the sales guy I learned the suit was designed in Italy, but it was actually made in China. It is a good suit, with a nice lining. The suit, two dress shirts (white and light blue), and a tie ended up costing my $130 dollars. Around the corner from the store I found a tailor who measured it up and fitted it for $5 dollars (in less than an hour), parking was another $5, and AJ couldn’t keep his hands off the bubble guns so that cost me another $5 dollars. So in total it was $145 dollars (which includes tax). Not too bad, in this economy. For a little extra excitement we went to nearby Little Toyko and had fun going through the shops and eating noodles. Oh, and if your wondering what I think the next fashion trend is going to be, I say hold on to that flannel because I see a whole lot of grundge coming to market…
(click to enlarge the pictures)