Los Angeles is the world leader in the most American of clothing items — blue jeans. High-end, hand-stitched blue jeans, very expensive designer jeans that will you run well over $100 a pair.
As the U.S. apparel industry continues to shrink, L.A.'s blue jeans business faces a threat.
The European Union has imposed a nearly 40 percent tariff which could cripple the city's jean business.
When people talk about Ilse Metchek they use phrases like "she's a piece of work," "a force of nature," "she's something else." If you want to talk fashion, she's your lady.
Metchek is president of the California Fashion Association. I went to her office in downtown Los Angeles to talk about jeans and fashion. Metchek has more than 40 years experience as a fashion designer.
No sooner than I could sit down, she scrutinized every piece of clothing I was wearing — especially the fabric on my jeans.
"You see the pix, the pixel? That's treatment," Metchek says. "The fabric doesn't come like that. Some machine is streaking them that way. That's expensive. And they fit. There's a different fit. You didn't buy Levi's, you didn't buy a Gap jean. You bought those."
Seventy-five percent of the designer jeans sold in the world are made in California. Over the last 20 years, an industry cluster was created in Los Angeles. While much of clothing manufacturing has been shipped offshore, high-end or more sophisticated manufacturing stayed here.
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