The Guide to the Los Angeles Fashion District

Shopping at Santee Alley in the L.A. Fashion District
Shopping in Santee Alley | Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

Spanning 100 blocks in the heart of Downtown L.A., the Los Angeles Fashion District is the hub of the L.A. fashion industry, featuring more than 2,000 independently-owned retail and wholesale businesses with apparel, accessories and footwear for the entire family. The district is also home to the lively Santee Alley, the largest selection of fabrics and notions in Southern California, and the L.A. Flower District, the largest flower market in the United States.

The district is open to both the public and the trade. Designer showrooms and wholesale businesses are for the trade-only. However, Santee Alley and retailers in the surrounding area are open to the public, as are many of the businesses on the west side of the district. Showrooms open to the public on the last Friday of the month for sample sales.

Read on for a guide to the vibrant L.A. Fashion District, including directions, shopping tips and more.

Directions

The Los Angeles Fashion District is easily accessible from the 110, 101, 10, 5 and 60 freeways. All-day parking is available at surface lots and structures on nearly every block; rates range from $8–15 for the day. Metered street parking is also available.

The L.A. Fashion District Parking App is available for both iPhone and Android. The app provides parking information based on your current location, allows you to save your parking location and search businesses within a 100-block radius of your parking location. There’s also a downloadable walking tour, driving directions and general district information.

Go Metro and take the Red Line to the Pershing Square Station at 5th and Hill Street, which puts you in the heart of the Jewelry District. Then hop on a DASH bus, which has routes that run throughout Downtown L.A., for just 50 cents (35 cents with TAP card). The Fashion District is located along DASH D& E lines.

For a map of the Fashion District, download the PDF at this link.

Retail Shopping

Mannequins at L.A. Fashion District
Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

About 80% of the L.A. Fashion District is dedicated to wholesale business. However, retail shopping is an integral part of the district. The Fashion District is a bargain hunter’s paradise, with over 1,000 stores that sell to the general public at wholesale discounted prices. Shoppers can expect to find bargains of 30-70% off retail prices on apparel and accessories for the entire family. Retail stores in the Fashion District are independent, not the brand name or chain stores that you’ll find in a typical shopping mall. That said, some stores will carry many discounted brand names.

General business hours are Monday–Sunday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays are the busiest days. Only about 30% of the stores are open on Sundays. Santee Alley and many stores around Santee Alley are open 365 days a year. To search for retail businesses by category and to contact stores directly, browse the Fashion District Directory.

Shopping Tips

Trying on clothes at L.A. Fashion District
Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

With thousands of stores spanning a 100-block area, the Fashion District can be intimidating to first-time visitors. But with the following tips you’ll be scoring great bargains like a pro in no time. For more shopping tips plus a list of useful fashion terms, visit the Fashion District website.

  • Solo Mayoreo: The majority of stores in the Fashion District are wholesale-only (solo mayoreo) and not open to the general public. Signs will be posted outside wholesale-only stores. Some wholesale-only stores will occasionally sell to the public, so be sure to ask.
  • Cash Only: Many stores in the Fashion District are cash only, so keep an eye out for the numerous ATMs located throughout the district.
  • Most stores do not have formal dressing rooms.
  • There is constant turnover of merchandise, so if you see something you like, buy it now - it may not be there later!
  • Merchandise is sold “as is” and all sales are final, so examine items carefully before you buy.
  • Store owners are more likely to lower the prices if you buy more than one item.
  • Keep in mind the Fashion District is 100 blocks, so wear comfortable shoes.
  • A luggage stroller is great for carrying large items or numerous purchases.

Sample Sales

Sample sale at California Market Center in the L.A. Fashion District
Sample sale at L.A. Fashion District | Photo courtesy of California Market Center, Facebook

The designer showrooms of some of the world’s most high-end, contemporary fashions are hidden in the wholesale showroom buildings of the L.A. Fashion District. These showrooms and buildings are for the trade only and are closed to the general public, except the last Friday of the month (only if it doesn’t conflict with a market week). Sample sales are perhaps the ultimate Fashion District experience, when some showrooms sell their end-of-season samples to the general public at bargain prices. Sample sales take place the last Friday of the month and hours are generally 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Apparel samples are usually size 2 or 4 and most showrooms accept cash only.

The wholesale showroom buildings are all located at the intersection of 9th and Los Angeles Streets. Please note that not all showrooms participate. To confirm participating showrooms, contact the buildings directly: California Market CenterCooper Design Space, The Gerry Building and The New Mart.

FABRICS & NOTIONS

Fabrics and notions at L.A. Fashion District
Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

The Los Angeles Fashion District is home to the largest selection of textiles and notions in the United States. There are nearly 200 wholesale and retail textile stores selling trim, beading and fabric, crafts and home decor. Shoppers can find nearly every type of fabric, from novelty to exotic silks and European upholstery. Prices range from 99 cents up to hundreds of dollars per yard. Designers, stylists and crafters all rely on the textiles and resources of the Fashion District, including textile tradeshows held at the California Market Center. Textile and notion stores are generally centered within four blocks, from 8th Street down to Olympic Boulevard, between Maple Avenue and San Julian Street. For fabric and notions stores in the district, visit the L.A. Fashion District Directory.

Santee Alley

Santee Alley in the L.A. Fashion District
Photo courtesy of Santee Alley, Facebook

Described by Racked LA as the "go-to mecca of wallet-friendly shopping," Santee Alley is an actual alley that’s located between Santee Street and Maple Avenue, from Olympic Boulevard to 12th Street. "The Alley" is one of the most popular shopping areas in the Fashion District, known for its festive atmosphere and amazing bargains. More than 150 stores and vendors sell thousands of items, from the latest trends in clothing styles to apparel for the whole family, jewelry, accessories, shoes, toys, perfumes, gift items and much more. Santee Alley is open 365 days a year from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information about Santee Alley, visit www.thesanteealley.com.

Menswear

Menswear shops at L.A. Fashion District
Menswear district | Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District

An entire sub-district of the L.A. Fashion District is dedicated to menswear. Bordered roughly from Los Angeles Street to Maple Avenue and 14th to 16th Street, the menswear area offers jeans, casual and business shirts, cowboy and western shirts, shorts, polos, athletic wear and more at wholesale and discount prices. Some of the stores also carry closeout name brand items such as Dickies and Levi’s. The L.A. Fashion District blog offers an insider tip: “A lot of what you’ll find here is very similar, if not the same, to what you would find in Santee Alley, without the crowds and with much easier parking.”

Los Angeles Flower District

L.A. Flower District in Downtown L.A.
L.A. Flower District | Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

The six-block Los Angeles Flower District is the largest flower district in the United States. The historic flower markets offer a spectacular array of the freshest flowers, greens and fillers available (many of them California grown), along with an extensive selection of floral supplies. General business hours for most flower stores are Monday–Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Centered along Wall Street between 7th and 8th Streets, the The Original Los Angeles Flower Market is the largest flower market in the country and the premier wholesale flower resource for Los Angeles. The 50,000 square-foot flower market has special hours for the general public, with admission fee: Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 8 a.m. to noon; Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday from 6 a.m. to noon. Admission is $2 per person Monday–Friday; on Saturday, admission is $1 per person.

Many other flower and floral supply stores can be found on 8th Street, between Wall Street and San Pedro Street. These stores are open to wholesale and retail during normal business hours and require no admission fee.

The California Flower Mall is open seven days a week to the trade and the public. There is no admission fee. Hours Monday–Saturday: 4:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Sunday: 5 a.m. to noon.

CLEAN & SAFE TEAM

Safe Team at L.A. Fashion District
Safe Team | Photo courtesy of L.A. Fashion District, Facebook

Easily recognized by their uniforms with the Fashion District’s signature yellow, the 60-member Clean & Safe Team is on patrol 24 hours a day, seven days a week in order to maintain a positive public environment for visitors and the community alike. The Clean Team washes over 14.5 million square feet of sidewalk per quarter and collects and disposes of more than six tons of trash daily. The highly-trained Safe Team serves as the eyes and the ears of the Los Angeles Police Department. Safe Team officers patrol the L.A. Fashion District on bike, foot and by night vehicle. Contact the Clean & Safe Team, 24-hours a day, seven days a week: 213.741.2661.

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