What to Wear on Your Next Trip to Los Angeles
Every time I visit Los Angeles, I leave with an urge to return or — much to my East Coast family’s objection — an impetuous urge to stay. And I’m not alone. L.A. attracts many people from different countries and cultures who gravitate towards the magnetic energy that somehow exists in harmony with its relaxed lifestyle. It’s got great weather year-round, a dedication to health and wellbeing, a city to keep you cultured, and a beach to keep you grounded.
With all L.A. has to offer — including one of the largest manufacturing centers in the U.S. — it's no surprise the city boasts a plethora of emerging designers, hailing from all corners of the world.
What they all have in common — besides producing in small quantities to limit their carbon footprint — is an ethos to embody the timeless and effortless style of the city itself — foregoing the season's trends and focusing on creating pieces that will never go out of style. Here are seven brands to shop before your next trip to L.A.
Ashwell's signature style is an amalgamation of her own life in coastal California and her childhood visits to her family's native Wales. An avid flea marketer, she was inspired by the feminine details and flattering fit of the vintage dresses she'd collect during her visits to England. In 2012, Ashwell set out to design a collection of dresses and ready-to-wear apparel that could be worn in the small coastal towns of California and in the large, green pastures of England. In doing this, she was able to modernize the timeless silhouettes that inspired her and has since become a cult-favorite among the coolest of California girls.
Lykke Wullf is also a reflection of the synergy between cultures. Designer Jemma Swatek was born in England, grew up in Denmark, and now lives in L.A. Her collection is an homage to both effortless California dressing and Scandinavian minimalism. She prides herself on environmentally conscious manufacturing and promoting a smaller, more timeless wardrobe. In doing so, she has created the perfect line of cool, elevated basics for free-spirited women of all ages and backgrounds.
Formerly the fashion director of Reformation, Sarah Staudinger launched her own brand of vintage-inspired pieces in 2015. Designed and produced in L.A., Staudinger wanted to create a "no nonsense" brand that would offer modern classics with a nod to the simple, flattering cuts from the past. The result? A cool L.A. line that boasts celebrity fans like Alexa Chung and Emily Ratajkowski. Right now, you can also find a few brand exclusives at net-a-porter.com.
Jesse Kamm is as minimalist in her approach to clothes as she is in her approach to life. She is the company's sole employee and has built her small line of wardrobe staples with that same idea: style should be simple. She believes you should buy your favorite pair of pants in every color — regardless of the trends — which is what inspired her trademark sailor pants that have been her line’s most covetable item season after season.
Ciao Lucia! is a line established on the idea that vacation dressing should be a year-round wardrobe. After working at a Sicilian restaurant in San Francisco and then moving to Cannes, Rome, Paris, and London throughout college, designer Lucy Akin fell in love with the ease of Italian resort-wear. Nostalgic for the clothes in the old vintage Italian postcards, her collection of silk voiles, washed cottons, and gauzy fabrics is the perfect wardrobe for the effortless L.A. look.
The Line by K
Karla Deras founded The Line by K to offer women feminine basics that elevate the wardrobe they already own. Much like the other designers here, Deras creates her limited-edition collections in downtown L.A., sourcing all of the fabric sustainably. Her collection is perfect for the L.A. girl in that the pieces work when gathering ingredients at the farmer's market or heading out to catch a show the same evening.
Christy Dawn is another designer whose line is inspired by her upbringing. Growing up in Placerville, California, she was drawn to the stability of the small town, where not much had changed in over 100 years. She describes her line as “the dress you long for when you stumble upon that box of old photographs of your grandmother.” Dawn uses deadstock fabric — the leftover textiles that would normally go to waste — and local artisans in downtown L.A. to produce just a few garments at a time. With this environmental effort, there is a limited number of each dress made, giving each piece even more of a vintage, one-of-a-kind feel.
To buy: christydawn.com, $280