Pretty frequently, I make the trek into downtown Los Angeles to visit the Fashion District to pick up supplies for my designs. Having been introduced to the area by my friends when I first moved out to LA, I realized that most Angelenos have never made the journey down to this wonderland of awesomeness and bartering, so I took a few photos when I was down there by myself last weekend.
The fabric and sewing supplies section of the Fashion District is located around the intersection of Maple and 9th, and stretches out for a few blocks in that area. Please note, that popping into Micheal Levine’s and then jumping back into your car is NOT THE TRUE PATH OF THE FABRIC NINJA! Levine’s is the go-to fabric store for many professionals, usually because they don’t enjoy the satisfaction of haggling prices with store clerks in all of the other stores. With fixed prices, a huge store (which, don’t get me wrong, can be useful!), and large cutting tables, Levine’s is the biggest fabric store downtown, with the largest variety of fabrics. However, traversing down the street on either side will lead you to smaller stores, usually family owned, where you can haggle the price down on fabric, depending on how patient you are. I definitely feel like I get more personalized service from the smaller stores I often visit, and many store owners know it’s time to get ready for a verbal throw down when I show up wanting entire bolts of fabric.
On the weekends, these places can get painfully crowded and difficult to get service in around noon. It’s best to go during the weekdays, but since I must go on the weekend, I always head down around 9AM on Sundays for free street parking (which usually disappears around 10:30AM) and the satisfaction of being the first customer of the day. Also, the weather is MUCH COOLER in the mornings. Past noon, the sun can really put a damper on a shopping day.
If you pop over to Olympic and Maple, and look a little West, you’ll see the entrance to Santee Alley, which is full of awesome knockoffs, generally cheap clothing, shoes, accessories, hot dog stands, ladies selling churros out of tupperware buckets, bootleg DVDs and even… people selling baby rabbits and turtles in tiny cages (HOW SAD!).
You can spend hours looking at stuff in there, but don’t forget, if you don’t like the price of one store, you can be sure to find the same item for sale a few feet away where you can haggle afresh. A trip to the Fashion District is a little like going on a vacation. Like its own little country, this slice of downtown is vastly different from any other part of LA, even other parts of the downtown area.
So if you find yourself wondering what sort of adventure to have this weekend, you can always go down to the otherworldly Fashion District for a romp through the insane.