After decades of empty factories, Los Angeles has regained its status as a hotbed for fashion and footwear design and production, brought on by younger consumers and their preferences for purpose-driven brands.
“Millennials are putting more pressure on brands to be ethical,” said Alexander Zar, who opened his footwear and handbag factory, LaLaLand Productions, in East Los Angeles in 2001 and works with clients such as Diadora, George Esquivel and John Geiger. “The trend is toward localized, environmentally conscious production. People don’t care as much as they used to about price, so long as it’s from the right manufacturer.”
Lifestyle sneaker label Comunity turned to LaLaLand for its production when the brand launched in 2017, partly for its own ethical reasons.
“We wanted to do local production where there’s a depressed or lost manufacturing base and there’s a need; I saw this in our own backyard,” said co-founder Sean Scott, whose office and showroom is based in Downtown’s arts district. Indeed, some small progress is being made in revitalizing the manufacturing economy. Los Angeles County employs 24 percent more workers in the fashion industry compared with New York City, according to a 2019 report by Otis College of Art & Design.
And while the