The brand American Apparel, which recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary, conjures up images of stylish and well-fitting fashion basics. It also likely brings to mind sassy advertisements featuring long-haired beauties in natural makeup posing in skin-bearing bodysuits and loungewear.
But what many don't know about the brand?despite its name and the slice of apple pie that comes with every purchase?is that all of its clothes are made in America. Everything from sewing and cutting to accounting and marketing happens in one building in downtown Los Angeles, and the rest occurs within a 30-mile radius. Not only that, every slim-fitting pair of pants, spandex bodysuit, and v-neck T-shirt is made in a sweatshop-free environment.
Plus, keeping everything in house means the company eliminates unnecessary and wasteful factors, such as shipping fuel and packing materials, as well as provides jobs to Angelenos, instead of outsourcing them.
To call The Body Shop a mere skin and body care store is to miss half of what makes it special. Late founder Dame Anita Roddick was a pioneer for ethical business practices; upon opening her first store in Brighton, England, in 1976, she developed company values such as "Defend Human Rights" and "Protect The Planet." She somehow balanced principles and profit, partnering in global campaigns with UNICEF, Greenpeace, Amnesty International, and the United Nations, all while ultimately expanding her brand into 2,500 locations in over 60 international markets. After her death in 2007, then-British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said, ?She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market. . . . She was an inspiration.?
Indeed, the Body Shop exhibits an eco-friendliness and social consciousness that's hard to come by in a company of its size. Its products have been fair-trade since 1987, and its Against Animal Testing movement led to an EU-wide ban of animal testing of cosmetics. The products are made from ingredients harvested from around the world: shea butter from Ghana goes into body scrubs and butters, and Indian artisans craft wooden massagers and tote bags that are screenprinted by hand. But all that isn't to say the company's production practices overshadow its final products. Skincare treatments such as the brand?s iconic body butters, facial products, and gift collections often appear in Allure, Marie Claire, Lucky, Seventeen and other national publications.
In 1976, two UC Davis graduate students bought 20 acres of land in the highly arable Capay Valley. One of the students, Kathleen Barsotti, was working toward her master's degree in ecology and was determined to grow vegetables and fruits in an eco-friendly way: organically. The organic-food movement hadn't yet entered the public consciousness, and Kathleen worked overtime to convince restaurants, stores, and consumers of the taste-able merits of her process. Over time, given the possible health and environmental benefits of certified organic food, she succeeded. The farm sprouted to 300 acres to accommodate the increased demand. Today, a second generation runs the farm as well as a shop inside San Francisco's Ferry Building. Dubbed Farm Fresh To You, the store furnishes customers' bags or portable cornucopia horns with all sorts of soil-sprouted goods, including heirloom tomatoes, sweet peas, and fresh asparagus. The farm also teams up with fellow Yolo County and Pacific Northwest farms to deliver boxes of seasonal produce to area homes.
Inside the sunny La Peer Beauty shop, patrons assisted by licensed pulchritude professionals browse glass shelves stacked high with candy-colored OPI nail polish, high-end skincare and hair products, and fragrances in twinkling bottles or room diffusers. Colognes such as Thymes’s Agave Nectar leave a bright, crisp fragrance on dermises, and skincare regimens from brands such as Dermalogica treat façades stressed out by harsh weather or the thought that professional wrestling is fake. An arsenal of curling and straightening irons and hair-dryer attachments help home stylists create their ideal dos, and hairsprays such as L’Oreal Elnett keep styles fast in place. An onsite salon puts La Peer’s products to the test as stylists trim hair or add extensions, aestheticians treat skin with facials and eye treatments, and wax techs whisk away unwanted hairs.
Earthly Body's collection of natural, vegan, and paraben-free skincare and bodycare products has caught the eye of an array of media outlets, such as Allure and Lucky magazines, with its hydrating hemp-oil bases and cruelty-free lineup. Candles melt into a candle pot with wax that can also be used as a warm massage oil, postcleansing moisturizer, or elbow cream for dry pet elephants. Earthly Body’s haircare line, Marrakesh, infuses each tendril-smoothing solution with Moroccan argan oil and three signature scents (original, High Tide, and Dreamsicle) to bolster frizz-free manes. Mineral-based makeups dust across facescapes without the harsh chemicals or pore-clogging guilt found in animal-tested products.
Wilshire Beauty sells an amazing selection of high end beauty and hair products from an elegant white, art deco building. Founded in 1947, the store was originally established as a laboratory for Rita Hayworth’s colorist and Bette Davis's makeup artist to experiment. Today, Wilshire Beauty is brightly lit, easy to navigate and neatly stocked with a wide selection of products. It’s especially a good place for people with particular tastes or special needs since the store stocks a collection of American, European and Japanese beauty products, many which were only available in exclusive salons, and the store even has a nice candle selection. The staff is helpful and knowledgeable and can make recommendations for those in need of a little guidance. There is parking in the back of the building as well as on the street.