“Made in USA” is the mantra of this popular Los Angeles-based clothing chain specializing in casual and fashionable basics. The petite Georgetown outpost of this national retailer pops with color, from the leggy mannequins in a multitude of tights hanging against a back wall to the sweaters, t-shirts and dailywear items that crowd the main walkway. You can find a range of jeans for him and her, colorful accessories and workout outfits, and a wide selection of soft, unadorned clothing for local college kids, nearby teenagers and anyone looking to dress a little hipper. You can also find sleepwear, lingerie, accessories like belts and hats, a wide selection of leggings, and, as befits a store located near a college campus, a full supply of backpacks.
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.
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.
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.
Seth Godin has revolutionized marketing with his innovative approach to communication and community. He is the founder of Squidoo, a former vice president of direct marketing for Yahoo!, and currently authors one of the most popular marketing blogs in the world. Godin's books—many of them best-sellers—have done more for marketing than Genghis Khan did for nomad marketing. The most recent of Godin's books, Linchpin, explores how employees can make themselves indispensable to their company by tackling tasks with the same sort of emotional commitment that an artist brings to his or her work.
Looking for a bargain on designer goods, from clothing to shoes to purses? Wander around Georgetown’s Second Time Around, whose “retail goes upscale” catchphrase suits the space perfectly. Unlike other vintage stores, this one is roomy, laid out in an organized fashion and well-maintained. Dressing areas are roomy and the place lacks that dusty mothball funk that can sometimes overwhelm lesser shops. You might even convince yourself that Second Time Around is just another retail boutique – until you look at the crazy-low prices on those Ferragamo shoes or that Armani jacket. Along with the most upscale designer brands, you can also find bargains on more moderately-priced labels like J. Crew. Once you’ve selected your garment, accessorize with some of the gently-worn costume jewelry. You’ll look like a million bucks, but have paid considerably less.