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.
Since 1989, Play It Again Sports has been keeping sports green, recycling gently used athletic equipment into new-to-you gear. Products from brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Wilson make up each store's enormous selection of new and recycled gear, which is replenished daily with goods for a wide selection of sports that ranges from baseball and football to snowboarding, skis, and ice skates. Treadmills and exercise bikes equip bodies with muscular suits of armor, and pintsize and adolescent equipment arms youngsters with protective padding until they eat enough bologna to grow muscles of their own. Knowledgeable staffers man each location, ready to answer questions, arrange gear deliveries or pick-ups, and even sharpen skates or wax snowboards. To ensure their stock remains robust, they also encourage athletes to collect their lightly used gear—including bicycles—and bring it into a local store to either sell or trade.
Depending on which wall you first look at when entering Motiv8 Skate Shop, it’s easy to think you’ve stepped into an art gallery. Hung along the wall like a painting exhibition, a collection of skateboard decks from lines such as Alien Workshop and Girl attracts shoppers with an array of colors and designs. Beyond that, a stock of longboards and BMX bikes and accessories inspires athletes to dream about conquering halfpipes or biking across the Atlantic Ocean. The staff also keeps the racks filled with a selection of clothing and shoes from designers such as Etnies and Emerica.
WLS-TV anchor Ron Magers, former Chicago Bulls center and coach Bill Cartwright, former Exelon Corporation CEO John Rowe, Chicago Cubs legend Ernie Banks, and author and attorney Scott Turow often find themselves reaching for the same suit. They do not share a closet, but the staff at Duru’s Custom Shirts and Suits claims to have tailored threads for each of them. The shop's clothiers, in fact, have draped Egyptian cotton and lightweight wool across the shoulders of numerous notable Chicagoans over the course of more than four decades in business. With the hushed sounds of tailor’s chalk on fabric and humming machinery in the background, the workers also alter wardrobes when patrons are accepting an award or trying to clothe the little guy on their award.
Jump ropes hiss through the air, spinning around fighters conditioning for an upcoming match. Sparring partners send each other to the ropes of the blue and white boxing ring with furious blows. Green mats cushion the full-body takedowns during Brazilian jujitsu matches. Top Notch Fitness & Boxing's entire facility echoes with grunts of effort and the cries of coaches demanding one more rep, punch, hop, or kick from each student as they hone their skills and strength in mixed martial arts and conditioning classes. The staff of fighters pushes students—beginners and professionals alike—to perfect their combat technique while shedding pounds, building muscle, and testing whether punching bags can feel pain.
The Uptown Shop is stocked with a mélange of whimsical clothing, bridal gifts, high-quality Trollbeads, and Vera Bradley products. Festoon a forearm with a Vera Bradley Emma bag ($35), a floral-patterned wristlet ($27), or procure a pattern-print Zip ID case ($12) with a front ID window to quickly show that you're of age to purchase Skittles. Bestow brides with gorgeous gifts such as a Seda France pagoda candle ($32) or a 5-ounce Trapp Private Garden candle ($20). The Brighton charming world necklace ($42) and Jay Strongwater starfish charm ($125) festoon necks, and cardigans and skirts garb golems in preparation for middle-school science fairs.