Today I’m going taking you guys with me as I visit the famous LA Fashion District, find the best deals on fabric, and brave my way through Santee Alley. Check out the video where I talk about my trip and show you guys around!
The LA Fashion district is a huge, popular area in downtown Los Angeles that is most famous for the good deals on fabrics and all things sewing, fashion, and…pretty much anything. It’s like a giant swap meet, basically. My favorite part about coming to the LA Fashion District is, of course, the fabric. Seriously. Fabric. More fabric. Mountains of fabric. Look at me climbing the mountain of fabric. Look at this girl climbing the mountain of fabric. Look at this boy falling off the mountain of fabric.
But that’s not the only thing it’s famous for. There are tons of retail and wholesale shops, not to mention the flower district and the suuuper popular Santee Alley.
After all the times I’ve visited the fashion district, I’m still amazed by all the awesomeness that makes up these 100 blocks. Going here can be a bit of a challenge, especially if you want to find the best deals. Not to mention that it can get a little crowded, noisy, aggressive, and just overwhelming in general. So I’m going to give you some tips for visiting the District if you plan on making the trek out here one of these days.
Number one: Travel light and keep your hands free.
I’m one of those people who like to carry my life in my purse. I always have to have my phone, wallet, keys, my Kindle in case I get bored, an extra book in case my Kindle battery dies, a notebook in case I’m struck with genius and have to write an idea down. But the fashion district is not the right place for this. You’re going to be doing a lot of shopping, and here, that means using your hands to look through fabric, sewing notions, exchanging cash, and more. So the best thing is to carry only your necessities with you and keep your hands free. Maybe switch to a cross over bag for the day, or somehow fit everything you need in your pockets.
Number two: Wear the right shoes and dress comfortably.
You’re going to be walking. A lot. The fashion district is made up of one hundred blocks, and you’re going to want to hit most of the stores, sometimes more than once, if you want to make the best deals. You’ll also be dodging people and cars, and hey, maybe you’ll make like me and climb a mountain of fabric. I made it through the day in flip flops, but I would recommend tennis shoes or comfortable flats.
Number three: Always have cash.
It’s rare that the stores here will accept credit cards, so you’ll need some cash on you. The good thing is that the fabric you’ll find is cheap. Like a dollar to three dollars a yard cheap. So you won’t need to carry that much change on you, but prepare to do some quick cash exchanges.
Number four: Driving and parking
Good luck. Just kidding. So the LA fashion district’s website gives some very awesome directions here depending what freeway you’re taking, and I’ll link it down below. You should also print out the map they provide because it’ll be extremely helpful when you’re navigating the stores on foot. You can access the district from the 10, 101, 110, and even the 710 freeways. The district is located between seventh and Venice Blvd, and Broadway and Stanford. When you’re anywhere in Downtown, you’re going to have a tough time finding parking, but I would suggest finding a lot with a flat rate as opposed to getting a meter, especially if you plan on staying for more than an hour or two.
Number Five: Use public transportation if you live in the area.
I used to live in downtown, but recently moved to the Long Beach area. Getting to LA is a lot easier using public transportation than driving, believe me. From Long Beach, I take the Blue Line, exit 7th and Metro station, and then hop on a bus on 7th street to Wall, which is where I spent most of my time today. You can also access the district through the Red Line and get off at 7th and Metro also.
Number Six: Browse before you buy.
Before I make a purchase, I check out almost all the shops to find the best deal. Most of the time, these stores are selling the same items, and it’s just a matter of finding the right price. Also, keep in mind that the inventory here moves quickly, so that means if you love it, buy it, cause it might not be there the next time you come back.
Number Seven: Keep tabs on restrooms.
When you’re in downtown, this will always be an issue. There are not many public restrooms and some shops will let you use theirs if you buy something. If you find a restroom, remember where it is because it might be the only place you’ll be able to go.
Number Eight: Stay hydrated.
Keep a bottle of water on you because you’ll be doing a lot of walking and it might get hot. If you forget, no worries. There will be street vendors on every corner where you can grab a drink–and maybe one of those delicious hot dogs too.
Number Nine: No dressing rooms.
If you’re here to shop for clothes, remember that there are no dressing rooms. Wear tank tops or something fitting if you insist on trying on clothes before you buy, otherwise, it’ll be a hit or miss. On that note, keep in mind that all sales here are final, so make sure you won’t be strapped down with buyer’s remorse.
Number Ten: Business hours are from 10 to 5.
If you go at any other time, it’ll be completely dead. The best time to go is in the morning when they just open. It will still be cool out, you’ll find the best deals, and the crowds won’t be so bad yet.
Number Eleven: If you’re a reseller, bring your permit.
There are a lot of wholesale merchants here, so if you have a seller’s permit, don’t forget to bring a copy of your license. You can set up accounts with wholesalers to save on costs. Also, keep in mind that some shops are only open to wholesale shoppers. The owners will usually put up signs on the shops, so pay attention.
Number Twelve: Bartering
I have to admit that this may not be my forte. I don’t like bargaining and I’m kind of a pushover, plus everything here is already so cheap. But if you’re really good at this, you should give it a try, especially if you are making a relatively large purchase, the owners will be more willing to give you a better deal.
Those are my tips for shopping at the LA Fashion District. What about you guys? Have you ever been to this area? If you have any tips on how to shop here, leave them in the comments!