New York tends to get all the attention for emerging fashion brands, but this L.A. girl is starting to feel a bit, well, jealous. It's just that the East Coast has shined in the spotlight as this country's fashion capital for long enough, and biased as I may be, there's a lot happening over here on the Pacific side of the continental U.S. that's just as buzz-worthy.
In reality, I hate even comparing the two cities because they're almost too different to warrant such a comparison, but I have a feeling the rivalry will persist, which is why I'm going out of my way today to point out the thriving scene of smaller indie and emerging names we Angelenos have. Don't worry—I'm not trying to slam you, New York. I'm only trying to show that the following Los Angeles clothing brands are the kind that every stylish Angeleno knows about but won't be spilling to her NYC friends anytime soon. Hey, we have to have some of our own nice things, right?
It's only natural, then, that the overarching theme of the following 10 brands is of the laid-back, fun-loving, and—dare I say—"chill" variety that this sunny city is known for. Expect to discover everything from retro-inspired disco pants to romantic lingerie and cool basics in the below roundup. You might even find yourself arguing that L.A. is the better coast. (If so, I'll have taught you well.)
Long before the pandemic made cool loungewear a huge fashion focus, Donni was busy mastering the category. Its elevated essentials come in a range of serotonin-inducing colors and some of the softest fabrics and the line almost always features matching sets that maximize style and comfort.
2. THE LINE BY K
The Line by K's website reads, "The Line by K is my love letter to the women in my life who exemplify fearlessness, and an encouragement to the women who wear these pieces to feel the same." Any clothing brand where empowering women and creating pieces to help make women feel their best is at the forefront is one that I want to be wearing. Its pieces are so easy yet have a certain air of sophistication. If you haven't tried The Line by K, I'd start with one of its basic tops or dresses. You won't be disappointed.
3. Gil Rodriguez
Eliana Gil Rodriguez's namesake line focuses on a few things and does them really well—e.g., simply cut bodysuits and cotton pieces that evoke the late '80s and early '90s. Everything is handmade ethically and transparently in Downtown Los Angeles.
You know Rails, but you don't know that you know Rails. This is because the line has become the best-kept secret for wardrobe basics in all of Hollywood. Celebrities flock to the brand for its selection of easygoing button-downs and breezy sundresses that are meticulously crafted from the softest fabrics.
There are basics, and then there are really good basics. Fans of Lacausa have camped squarely in the latter category thanks to the brand's commitment to low-key and relaxed fits and sustainable practices.
Serving up '90s-inspired beach and swimwear, L.A.-based Anemos is a minimalist's dream label. What started as a well-edited line of elevated bikinis has evolved into a brand that some of the most stylish women are packing for their vacations.
Stylist Linda Meltzer is the reason baby tees were even a thing in the '90s. Her shrunken, cropped tees ended up on everyone from Jennifer Aniston in Friends to the cast in Clueless and nearly every other style icon of the decade, fictional and not. Pretties is the modern-day iteration of her '90s project, ensuring the OG baby tee and other pieces like lace camis are still relevant today.
8. Calle Del Mar
Native Californian Aza Ziegler actually launched Calle Del Mar while studying fashion design NYC, but we still think it's as California a brand as they come. (I mean, the name basically translates to "beachside street.") The knitted varsity-striped tees are the perfect pieces to toss on with denim cutoffs and sandals and, well, head to the beach.
9. Rezek Studio
Rezek Studio is a brand-new line of silky, disco-inspired pieces designed to hug your body in all the right places. Wear the Boogie Dress with strappy sandals for a warm-weather night out or style the Foxy Top with vintage jeans. Each piece is meant to be special yet versatile.
LNA is a line of not-so-basic basics co-founded by L.A. cool girl Lauren Alexander. Expect sultry but still easy-to-wear wardrobe staples like single-shoulder tanks and cutout dresses made from soft and slinky fabrics.
This post was published at an earlier date and has since been updated.
Anna is an editor on the fashion team at Who What Wear and has been at the company for over five years, having begun her career in the Los Angeles office before relocating to New York, where she's currently based. Having always been passionate about pursuing a career in fashion, she built up her experience interning at the likes of Michael Kors, A.L.C., and College Fashionista before joining the team as a post-graduate assistant editor. Anna has penned a number of interviews with Who What Wear's cover stars over the years, including A-listers Megan Fox, Issa Rae, and Emma Chamberlain. She's earned a reputation for scouting new and emerging brands from across the globe and championing them to our audience of millions. While fashion is her main wheelhouse, Anna led the launch of WWW Travels last year, a new lifestyle vertical that highlights all things travel through a fashion-person lens. She is passionate about shopping vintage, whether it be at a favorite local outpost or an on-the-road discovery, and has amassed a wardrobe full of unique finds. When she's not writing, you can find her shooting street imagery on her film camera, attempting to learn a fourth or fifth language, or planning her next trip across the globe.
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