American Rag's Vice President Caleb Lin and Men's Buyer Daniel Oh were recently interviewed by Hypebeast as a part of a piece exploring Los Angeles' place in the fashion world. Read on to hear what they had to say about LA's fashion scene and it's recent evolution.
Why do you think New York City has always been perceived as North America’s fashion capital?
All of the runway shows and tradeshows are there. I mean, just historically, you know when you talk about the international fashion cities you have Tokyo, New York, London, Milan, Paris, and they have that heritage, that history.
So what makes LA-bred brands and trends unique and worth being noticed globally?
When people are digging deep into what the elements are that people are referencing in fashion today, here on the West Coast, they’re talking about surf culture, skate culture, street culture, and all that stuff comes from here. That surf culture and that skate culture was born here. And so you have these brands that are tapping into that in very authentic ways, where you know that lot of these brands that are coming out, these are guys that have actually skated since they were kids – they’re not making it up, they’re not trying to do anything more than express what they’ve been experiencing in their daily life.
So authenticity in the culture these brands are trying to represent is one thing. Anything else that makes West Coast brands different?
Another big aspect is Hollywood. We’ve seen the evolution of media and fashion kind of becoming one entity, and you have Hollywood out here so you know a lot of the guys who are working in fashion on the West Coast are also dabbling within celebrity styling, so with social media becoming one, and trends following each other and for a person to be designing and based out of California — trying to represent that California culture — it’s easier for them to get their name out globally as they have all of the right media sources at their fingertips.
Aside from the stylistic aspect of L.A. brands, are there any other advantages to being based on the West Coast?
Authenticity in style is definitely a big element, but then we have production. You have a lot of brands in New York that do the “Made in the USA” and “Made in New York” production aspect, but you know as for us buyers, a lot of times when we see “Made in New York” on the tag we cringe a little bit because we know that there’s kind of limitations in terms of who you can go to and how many different places there are, and a lot of times “Made in New York” doesn’t really mean better quality. A lot of the really good factories are here in Los Angeles so there’s a lot more ability for a kid that might not have a super advanced fashion background to go and try things, and go and get something produced and be able to take a dream and bring it into fruition. And so I mean, you’re now seeing a lot of East Coast brands either setting up offices over here, or they’re coming out here to do their production. For a lot of these brands that are local to the West, they already have it in their backyard.
So there’s a definite shift in New Yorkers coming out to L.A.?
The funny thing is actually we’re both originally from New York. But it’s funny, while New York is always home — it has that place in our hearts – It’s cool to be in L.A. now, you know what I mean? Like a lot of our friends, designers, reps who’ve been in New York for years and have been in the industry for years have been moving out west. And because of a lot of different reasons, like the weather — how nice it is over here — which I think actually does play a big part. We remember a couple seasons ago we were coming back from New York and Paris where it was like 7 degrees outside. And I came back, I landed in Los Angeles and I went to my friends place for a BBQ where it was around 70 degrees outside… It’s hard to describe, but there’s just something about Californian culture; the California “cool.”