Earlier this month we took a trip down to Los Angeles to visit and tour several wholesale companies. We thought our readers here at The Liquidators Guide would also benefit from a stop at the Los Angeles Fashion District. Are you looking fr new wholesale sources of clothing? If so, the fashion district just might interest you.
Both my wife and I decided to hit the fashion district on a Thursday with the thinking it wouldn’t be as crowded as a Friday or Saturday. We set our GPS to “fashion district,” and we were quickly prompted to turn off the Santa Monica freeway into the downtown area. We traveled a couple of blocks and were inundated with wholesale vendors on every corner. It was a bit overwhelming because we did not know where to start our self-guided walking tour. Our tour was impromptu, meaning, we just wanted to get a feel for the location and visit with a few vendors. We did not experience any of the wholesale exclusive showrooms which should be a part of your trip, should you plan on experiencing the market yourself.
While driving down a few streets we decided to park using metered parking on a less crowded side street. The meter took our credit card without hesitation, so there was no fumbling for pocket change. We knew there were other options for parking, but what the heck, a $1.00 per hour seemed reasonable.
So here we go, off to start investigating clothing wholesalers, at least I was off on this mission. I soon found out my wife had a different agenda, that being shopping for herself and our two girls back home. After twenty years of marriage, I know my wife all too well and because of this, I wasn’t too surprised. Her personal shopping agenda actually worked out well because it gave me enough time to snap photos and talk with a bunch of vendors.
I would venture to say 95% of the clothing sold within the fashion district is non-branded. Most wholesale vendors are manufacturing this clothing overseas, and placing their own label on each item. Non-branded apparel items do not sell well on eBay or Amazon, but do very well in a brick ‘n mortar environment.
Pricing was all over the board, but most clothing items were hovering in the $3-$5 wholesale range, per piece. I did find three vendors who were selling well-known name brands. One such vendor offered wholesale American Eagle, Aeropostale and Hollister clothing items. I spent some time within this particular store and was surprised to see each item had what appeared to be authentic store tags showing actual retail pricing.
Most of this branded stock was being offered within the $7-$10 range (t-shirts) and approximately $13-$18.00 for jeans & hoodies [think of Mark Zuckerberg]. Whenever I see popular brands, in such large quantities, I often wonder if they are Grey Market goods. Take a quick Google search in reference to identifying knock off clothing items. Reselling grey market items can have serious consequences, take a look at this flea market seller who was busted earlier this year. Ok, enough scary talk…back to the market!
Parking – In terms of parking, there are a couple of options:
Parking Garages – It’s tempting to follow the directions of the many parking “flagers” who will guide you into large structures for a few bucks. Once inside a garage you will be surprised to find out that the actual parking garages are small. Attendants will guide you to park like sardines in between other vehicles who are on all sides. The parking attendant will ask to hold your keys because they are continuously moving vehicles around to accommodate as many cars as possible.
Street Metered ($1 per hour) – This is the best option because you can return to your car at any time without hassle. The parking meters accept credit and debit cards as if they were candy! At least it’s better than fumbling around for change. I fully recommend using the metered parking after experiencing both options.
Purchasing Stock – We quickly realized that a lot of vendors had the same stock, only priced differently. I would fully recommend scouting the entire segment before making a purchase (the market is organized into sections, i.e. women’s, men’s, children’s, accessories, etc.). Once you’ve seen all of the vendors, you can then go back to the seller offering the lowest pricing. I really got the feeling after watching several transactions that pricing is negotiable, especially if you are buying in quantity.
Comfort Considerations – We thought we would be escaping the Northern California heat, but this was not the case. It was scorching hot! We were not dressed appropriately, and it made for a difficult visit. Be sure to check the weather before you travel to the market, and pack/dress appropriately. There is so much ground to cover and so much to see you will definitely not regret wearing tennis shoes and a fanny pack (yep, they’re so in again!) or a cross body purse so your hands are free.
Wholesale Versus Retail – Eighty percent of the district is comprised of wholesale merchants, with the balance being retailers. Retail merchants are concentrated around Santee Alley. The alley is comprised of several wondering paths of retail type shops with no hope of finding a restroom if needed. Signs are posted to encourage newbie’s to meander around making sure to forget where you were headed; I think this is done on purpose to hopefully get you to spend lots of dinero!! Oh, and don’t forget to get tasty taco at one of the food vendors lined up and down each street.
Must Haves – You must bring business identification if you plan to buy at wholesale pricing/quantities. The wholesale vendors will ask to see a copy of your resale permit. Without proper docs, you could be denied the sale or end up paying full retail + tax for your stock. More info on resale licenses can be found here.
Visit Duration– We were at the market twice for a total duration of about four hours- we didn’t even scratch the surface. If you are serious about investigating multiple vendors, it would be best to devote at least a full day or two shopping within the garment district.
With that, this concludes our post on the fashion district. If you own a store or are thinking about opening a clothing store, a one or two day jaunt to Los Angeles might be worth it. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, my wife ended buying several items for herself and the girls. I think once said and done, she had spent about $50 bucks. Not bad, huh? Yeah, I think the fashion district is the way to go for wholesale and retail enthusiasts.
LA Fashion District Resources
Our 2020 Liquidators Guide chronicles 12 years of wholesale product sourcing experience and includes my personal black book of direct source contacts! As an industry expert, I'll share the success I've enjoyed along with the mistakes I've made buying and reselling liquidation merchandise.
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