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.
Sequel At Sequel, seasonal outfits splashed with bright colors hang from dressing racks and mannequins congregating around long-stemmed flora growing toward the ceiling. Situated inside the Wildwood shopping center, the boutique brings name-brand designers such as Bailey 44, MZ Wallace, and Now or Never to shoppers looking to stock up on fashion-forward clothing or sew a cocktail dress made entirely out of price tags. Store displays overflow with jewelry and jackets in addition to shirts, pants, and outerwear, allowing buyers to easily complete trendy ensembles.
The Florida Running Company, a store completely staffed by runners, finds people the fittingest shoes using a process similar to the one speed daters use to find future mates—taking measurements, assessing stance, and playing back video of them running on a treadmill. The shop carries top running-shoe brands such as Asics Gel Kayano ($140) and Nike Air Pegasus ($85). Runners can complement their kicks with Nike Tempo track shorts ($28) or swaddle their feet in a pair of Balega socks ($10), as soft and comforting as group hug from every grandmother on the block.
Before Comfort One Shoes' sole experts are allowed to fit a single shoe to a customer's foot, they must graduate from Comfort One University and undergo a mentorship process. It's only then that they can help shoppers find their desired footwear, whether it be lace-up Ziera boots, On running shoes with CloudTec technology, or Thierry Rabotin shoes, handmade without uncomfortable, rigid components. Alongside men's and women's footwear, the shop stocks an assortment of bags and accessories such as colorful iPhone cases from Triple C Designs that protect phone exteriors and conceal scratches from the last time you transformed into a werewolf.
Comfort One Shoes also seeks to better the world through creative philanthropic efforts, such as collecting 25,000 shoes for those without and offering their employees half their pay and time off to volunteer in the community. Perhaps such initiatives are part of the reason Comfort One Shoes earned the National Shoe Retailers Association’s Retailer of the Year Award in 2011.
On the showroom floor at Bensons Jewelers, display cases sparkle with diamonds, necklaces, watches, and charms from jewelry makers such as Reed & Barton, Elle, and Breuning. Rings missing gemstones or cursed tiaras in need of de-hexing can turn to the full service repair shop, where a jeweler with 20 years of experience fixes and restores baubles, backing all work with a six-month guarantee.