showroom la

4

Los Angeles is a region better known for Hollywood, but it actually has more manufacturing jobs than any other metro area in the U.S. Of the more than half-million manufacturing jobs in the region, about 50,000 of them are in the garment industry.

Fashion is a big part of LA’s identity, and you feel it in the Fashion District downtown. It has changed a lot since the late 1980s, when plain beige towers called California Mart bustled with all things related to the garment industry.

Brian Weitman grew up around the garment industry and remembers Cal Mart’s heyday.

“It was first-generation migrant workers working their butts off all day long on a sewing machine or cutting tables, and these buildings were just humming. And there were racks rolling in and out all day long. These freight elevators, you’d have to wait to just load your garments in them to get them into a truck to get them to ship out to a store,” Weitman says. “But everyone wanted to be around here because this was the hub. This was the only showroom center in LA.”

From Pocket Lining To Jeans, A Niche Means Survival In LA Fashion

Photos: John Francis Peters for NPR