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What it's really like to work in Los Angeles fashion industry from four professionals

By Aileen Yu

Aug 30, 2019

Fashion

Los Angeles may not be the first city that comes to mind when people think of fashion, but the West Coast style and most recently lifestyle influencers have no doubt become a bona fide cultural export to the world. Homegrown brands such as Fred Segal and 7 For All Mankind have come to represent SoCal cool while A-listers from pro-surfer Kelly Slater, musician Beck to designer Tom Ford are all breathing life into the LA fashion scene. Is it really all palm trees, beaches and sunny days working in fashion in the City of Angels? FashionUnited asked four industry professionals on what it’s like to live and work in Los Angeles.

Dale Arden Chong, Freelance Fashion Writer and Editor at FashionUnited, The Zoe Report, Who What Wear

Are you from LA? If not, what made you decide to move there?

I'm from Nebraska, originally. I moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California. Thanks to circumstances, I ended up staying out here!

Do you think there is a fashion hub in Los Angeles? What do you think makes it unique?

I think it's definitely becoming one. If America is a melting pot, Los Angeles feels like the melting pot of fashion. There appears to be a level of freedom in terms of what people will wear—perhaps that's due to the weather and we can wear anything anytime. While there are definitely certain aesthetics that stand out, like streetwear, bohemian-inspired pieces, I feel like there's a really broad sense of fashion here—and I love it because it feels more creative.

What are the pros and cons of living and working in LA?

Because LA is still growing as a fashion hub, the community feels smaller. I don't interact with many stylists, but I've gotten to know a good group of editors from other publications simply by seeing them at the same events or working with them in my past. It's great to have a small community to chat with.

On the same note, LA is still growing as a fashion hub—while there's potential for it to really boom, more brands are beginning to build a presence out here and I think it's really helpful for all areas of the industry!

Any words of advice for those who’d want to break into the fashion industry in LA?

Reach out to anyone and everyone you might be interested in talking to—and be persistent. If you can, meet up with those people in-person for an informational interview or just to get to know them and build a stronger connection. Of course, be sure to stay in touch—that's how I got my first job!

After that, identify the people you feel really want to help you along in your career. Whether it's through introducing you to someone new or just moral support, it can make such a difference.

Erika Best, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux

Can you tell us a memorable experience about working in LA’s fashion industry?

When I first moved to LA, I basically worked as a glorified courier making special deliveries to celebrities. I was given a $3,000 watch to deliver to Channing Tatum and was told there’d be someone home to receive it from me. When I got to his house, though, no one answered, I had no cell service, and he had a 10-foot wall around his property. I didn’t want to drive all the way back to the office with the job undone, so I went back to my car to brainstorm. I ended up taking my aux cord (which I used to listen to music from my iPhone) and tying it around the watch box. I tossed the watch over the wall, lowered it down as much as I could, and finally let it go. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but I made it work! I think if you can get into this concept, you’ll do well here, or anywhere else you want!

Interview: Erika Best, Senior Brand Marketing Manager at The Black Tux

Whitney Eaton, Director of Brand Relations at Ambassador Retail

What is it like to work in fashion in Los Angeles?

I lived in New York City for ten years and I can say that a major difference is the importance that Los Angeles places on wellness and leisure. It’s a big part of the LA lifestyle and also affects our clients’ showrooms. For example, it's entirely possible for me to just pop by for a store visit without a prior appointment. Also, as most people living in LA would like to avoid traffic, working late in the office is not usually much of an option for most.

Do you think LA has a fashion hub?

I think there definitely is a fashion hub here as all the major brands have showrooms in LA and there are also many manufacturers. However, if it’s high fashion or major publications and photographers you’re looking for, then New York City is still the place to be. It really depends on what kind of fashion hub one wants to be part of, and the facet of the industry they are most passionate about.

Working in Fashion: A day in the life of a director of brand relations

Lindsay Stevens, Executive Recruiter at Kirk Palmer Associates

Any advice you have for people aspiring to get jobs in fashion and retail on the West Coast?

Getting into the fashion industry is just having a passion for it. In a way, you [have to] be really watching what everyone else is doing. It's highly trend-driven. You need to understand what's at the front of innovation in order to be successful no matter what your role is. It has to be something that you’re passionate about.

Lindsay Stevens reveals the secret to getting a job in the West Coast fashion industry

Photos: courtesy of Dale Chong, courtesy of The Black Tux, courtesy of Whitney Eaton, courtesy of Kirk Palmer Associates / Lindsay Stevens

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