A calm quiet sat over Downtown Los Angeles for the summer shows. Scaled down for a subdued season ahead, the California Market Center opened its showrooms and hosted both the Select x Emerge shows and, in the penthouse, the Transit footwear show while, across the street, the summer installment of Designers & Agents took place.
Select x Emerge always has a very tranquil feel with sparse exhibitors that still hide some real gem brands. Yak and Yeti are a contemporary, hand dyed line, located in Torrance, California with, true to their name, pieces made in Nepal. Beside them sat Ange Libby, a new handbag line out of Orange Country. Libby’s difficulty finding the right purse led her to create her brand of glittering, colorful pieces and wallets, too.
Across the aisle, Merge LA brings Los Angeles to Japan and Japan back to LA again. For the past five years, they have created their cool tee shirts locally and sold them to an eager Japanese market. For the first time, the brand is looking to sell on their own turf, bringing a bit of that LA/Tokyo mix with them. Owning their own print factory allows them to change things up for buyers and customize orders.
Chikirina is doing convertible swimwear that can also be worn as activewear or lingerie. This is their third year of production in Istanbul and their first year being introduced in the United States. Next to them, the brand Kitsch wrote the book on the flat hair tie trend sweeping social media. They brought their cute hair accessories and Hobie, the boss dog, with them.
Rounding off the best at Select x Emerge was Lalita, a luxury accessories collection with a seductive twist. Bamboo, sustainable tanks with a range of straps and garter belt inspired details along with bespoke jewelry in sterling and lambskin leather highlight the collection.
Way up to the penthouse for Transit. Looks like Steve Madden buys up brands like Jay Leno picks up vintage cars. The shoe giant had an entire section including semi casual, affordable line Report and, a favorite of all, the Superga Italian People’s Shoe collection. Superga is growing its line in The States now, thanks to Madden, creating new prints, metallic, wools and suedes. Good on them.
OTBT is a brand based, interestingly enough, in Lynchburg, Virginia. The line mixes European leathers with comfort fashion, cupped foot beds, etc. They will also make an appearance at the Outdoor Retailer show and are a huge hit already with the ladies in the southern states who favor one sandal in particular, making it a best seller for the brand.
Nomad rainboots is getting creative with the usual collection of brightly colored wellies. They have added in shorty gardening boots, local artisan prints, monogrammed riding boots and even high heel rain boots. Makes jumping in puddles worth it again.
Across the street at the New Mart, Designers & Agents had their classy, yet calm, smaller show for the season. JP and Mattie were there with summer and spring essentials like hand embroidered bags made of 70s motorcycle jackets and hand dyed, hill tribe boho prints. Opposite them sat B Ella, a made in the USA sock line with selections for men but, pleasingly, cool socks for the ladies, too. Retailing anywhere from $15 to $80, their socks go from cotton to pure cashmere and have the prints to back that up.
The Matta line was at D&A this season. Created in 2003 by Cristina Gitti, an Italian in New York. The name of the brand means “crazy lady” and reflects the designer’s penchant for all things Indian and silk cotton. Everything is made there with traditional techniques. They even say that the hand sewn articles infuse the apparel with the vibration of the machines, bringing good vibes to the wearer.
Suzanna Kalan brought her jewelry, sparkling for 28 years in top line retailers. Her Fireworks collection set things off and, in fact, the brand says, ended up reinventing the traditional baguette diamond setting. Meanwhile, down the aisle, Christina Lehr brought her cotton knit wear, garment dyed with a soft hand feel right here in Los Angeles. Rounding off D&A this season was a fun collection from Voloshin, a Philadelphia based label running its own print studio. Busy making prints for the likes of J Crew and such, they are finally making some items for themselves and killing it along the way.
All in all a quiet but pretty little summer season for the Downtown LA Fashion District.