Los Angeles wants the fashion/apparel world to know how much is 'Made in LA'

A worker on the factory floor at Design Knit, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles.
A worker on the factory floor at Design Knit, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles.
Brian Watt/KPCC
A worker on the factory floor at Design Knit, Inc. in downtown Los Angeles.
Pat Tabassi now works as marketing manager Design Knit, Inc., the company her parents founded 27 years ago.
Brian Watt/KPCC

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The Los Angeles garment district is making a bold statement at the "Sourcing at Magic" apparel trade show this week in Las Vegas. “Sourcing at Magic,” North America’s largest apparel sourcing trade show, expects more than 800 fabric and clothing design makers and suppliers from more than 40 countries. This year, it will feature a pavilion called “Made in LA.”

"We’ll show off L.A. companies that represent every link in the apparel supply chain," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "We’ll ask the world: Why just ‘Made in the USA,’ when you can be ‘Made in L.A.’?"

The mayor had just toured the factory of Design Knit, Incorporated, one of eleven Los Angeles business that will exhibit in the "Made in LA' pavilion. The Los Angeles Regional Export Council and the California State Trade and Export Promotion program helped pay for the space.

American Apparel and Forever 21 are two well-known Los Angeles-based clothing firms, but the Mayor's Office says the area is home to a $13 billion industry, with more than 10,000 businesses at every level of the apparel supply chain. That supports about 100,000 direct jobs, about half of which are manufacturing jobs.

Design Knit, Inc. is a 27-year-old family business in downtown L.A. It employs 40 people and makes knit fabrics to order for a lot of the high-end labels found in many department stores. Its Marketing manager, Pat Tabassi has been to a lot of trade shows and had to stitch up misconceptions about the origins of a lot of her products.

"When people asked, 'Where is your fabric made?' I would say, 'Los Angeles' and they’d say, 'No, no, no, where is it really MADE? Not where are you shipping from.'” Tabassi explained. "I said, 'No, it’s really made behind my office, in the factory in Los Angeles' and they’re shocked because nobody thinks that it exists anymore."

Tabassi says local manufacturing allows for quick turnarounds in the fast moving fashion industry.

The “Sourcing at Magic” trade show runs through Thursday in Las Vegas.