Mary Price, Founder of Butterfly Mark certified luxury clothing company ocean+main, has been advocating throughout her career for garment workers’ rights.
The LA fashion district began developing in the 1920s and quickly evolved into a hub for fashion that specialised in men’s and women’s clothing, hosting warehouses and showrooms. The district employs around 45,000 people, accumulating an estimated eight billion dollars per year. Recently, the district is at risk of being demolished, which many believe threatens the livelihoods of thousands of employees and will have a devastating impact on the manufacturing industry.
The situation has taken a quick turn in LA and the DTLA (Downtown LA) Garment District is at serious risk. Read below Mary’s open letter to find out more about the situation and how you can support.
With sustainability and local manufacturing top of mind for all of us, the LA City Council is on the verge of rezoning the DTLA Garment District to make way for $1M condos and hotels. Here is what is at stake:
ocean+main and DTLA
In 2015, I launched ocean+main to do things differently. I wanted to create a brand that put people and planet first and manufacturing in my back yard, Los Angeles, allowed me to build a brand with purpose in mind.
The unique ecosystem of the Los Angeles Fashion District is like no other. Within walking distance of our design studio, every imaginable resource you need to grow and build a business is available. From immensely talented sewing contractors and pattern makers to fabric and trim suppliers, everyone and everything is available within a 10-block radius of our studio.
As part of the Positive Luxury community, we all know local manufacturing lowers Green House Gas (GHG) emissions, diversifies our supply chains, provides oversight into working conditions and better management of waste and energy. Unfortunately, none of those ESG principles were considered when the LA City Council began formulating the DTLA 2040 Community Plan.
LA’s Manufacturing Impact
LA is responsible for manufacturing 83% of all apparel made in America. Eliminating LA’s Garment District would mean the demise of American-made fashion. Although LA garment workers and business produced $1.5 billion in US cut & sew apparel sales in 2019 alone, no one in the industry was consulted about the plan and we were only recently made aware of their plan to displace us.
Apparently, this plan has been in the works for seven years. What may have seemed like a ‘good idea’ seven years ago hardly makes sense through today’s lens. Reshoring has exploded production in LA and ocean+main, our contemporaries and suppliers consistently report that 2022 was their best year ever.
Major infrastructure investment is underway today to make LA a global hub for sustainable apparel manufacturing in the future, but, without garment workers or existing garment businesses, that investment will evaporate.
LA’s Social Impact
At the peak of the pandemic, LA’s garment professionals produced over 20M pieces of PPE when the US could get it nowhere else on the planet.
In 2021, California passed SB62 to ensure garment workers fair wages and rights. The DTLA 2040 Community Plan could upend these wins for workers and result in the closure of businesses who employ them.
The pandemic exacerbated the already dire affordable housing crisis we are facing in Los Angeles. This plan only supports more unnecessary unoccupied luxury housing units at the expense of garment jobs and the unhoused.
Displacement is happening now
Currently there is no plan to relocate the garment workers or the businesses who could be forced to move or close if this plan goes through, and, this plan is moving QUICKLY. Just this week, April 17, my factory was closed with less than 24 hours’ notice for a building ‘inspection’ which means the building is under contract for sale. The building’s future and the future of our team is uncertain.
How you can help
Whether or not you produce in LA, work with vendors who do, or use any of the ancillary services in LA from transportation to fixtures, or strongly believe that local manufacturing is a global issue, we could use your help protecting, preserving, and supporting this very special eco-system. With its unique proximity and availability of talent and skill, LA has launched some of the world’s most iconic brands over the years and still does. Without the DTLA Garment District infrastructure, the talent and innovation LA has borne for decades will be lost for good, not only in LA, but in America.
Thank you so much for your support!
Mary Price, Founder ocean+main
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