In the fight against fast fashion, one of our most powerful tools is American-made and U.S.-based fashion. Once centered in New York’s Garment District, U.S.-based retailers are popping up in Los Angeles and gaining massive fanbases.

As they cater to a younger, more stylish crowd than many New York-manufactured retailers (such as Nanette Lepore), this new wave of American fashion is changing the scope of the industry for the better–they’re alternatives to both fast fashion *and* traditional high-end labels that tend to be outdated and impractical.

Below, I’ve gathered five of my favorite U.S.-based retailers whose pieces have earned their place in my day-to-day wardrobe.

Top and trousers both by Reformation

Are You Am I: A favorite among bloggers, Are You Am I was founded by a blogger herself named Rumi Neely, also known as “fashiontoast”. This collection of upscale, not-so-basic basics puts a younger, more modern spin on must-have pieces like plain white t’s, bodysuits and day-to-night dresses.

Backbite: If you’re a vintage lover like me, look no further than Backbite, an LA-based, online-only thrift shop. It’s no secret that the best vintage is found in large cities like LA and New York, but for those of us who live outside these metropolitan areas, reliable vintage shops are few and far between. Thankfully, there’s the Internet.

In addition to stunning, one-of-a-kind vintage pieces, Backbite also specializes in unique in-house designs. Personally, I am a huge fan of their vintage-t’s-turned-bodysuits. Plus, it’s run by a team of boss babe BFFs who put SO much attention to detail into their work.

Like most good vintage, their pieces are on the pricier side, so be sure to sign up for their mailing list and follow @backbite_ on IG for updates on the shop’s sales and giveaways!

Minimale Animale: So, this one isn’t technically fashion; it’s solely swimwear. But, I just had to include it because these smokin’ hot ‘kinis and one-pieces are designed and manufacturing right here in the U.S. of A. I am a huge fan of this label for so many reasons, but the fact that it is U.S.-based is at the top of the list.

The simple, yet unique designs set these swimsuits apart from the rest. Inspired by old-school swimwear of the 1980s and 90s and ultra-skimpy, Minimale Animale stands out for all the right reasons. They will make you wish for summer all year long.

Reformation: Impossibly chic but far from trendy, Reformation, another LA-based shop, is the antidote to a world plagued by fast fashion retailers. No matter their personal style, it seems It girls everywhere love this eco-friendly retailer.

Founded in 2009 on the basis of sustainability, Reformation offers both seasonal and timeless pieces that can be styled for a multitude of occasions from the office to happy hour and beyond. And like I said, they’ve got something for your steez, be it preppy, boho, athleisure or anything in between!

Revice: Good denim is a necessity no matter what. But surprisingly, a great pair of jeans is hard to find nowadays. The first time I ever put on a pair of jeans from Revice, however, I was so pleasantly surprised because they are suspiciously comfortable and couldn’t be more flattering.

With a quality pair of vintage or vintage-inspired jeans costing upwards of $100 today, Revice Denim’s prices really can’t be beat. And although killer denim is definitely worth investing in, their prices range from about $58 to $98, so Revice won’t break the bank.

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Twice-bankrupt American Apparel is no stranger to bad publicity. But, 40 percent-off all online and in-store purchases–which was supposed to end January 8, according to its website–has been extended indefinitely, causing quite a buzz among shoppers. Although the Canadian company Gildan Activewear bought rights to American Apparel’s intellectual property and other assets, according to Business Insider, that does not include the 110 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S., which will likely be forced to close if not sold.

Gildan gained a temporary license to all 110 stores, but that expires in a little over two months, according to Business Insider. Gildan never intended to resume operations at American Apparel stores, and does not plan to keep the stores beyond the 100 days designated by the temporary license.

[source: Instagram user @americanapparelusa]

Via Instagram (@americanapparelusa), American Apparel promotes its 40 percent-off sale almost daily. Many posts suggest several pieces–including the popular Disco Pants–are nearly sold out, while another insists the company’s line of basics will soon be considered “vintage” due to the company’s bankruptcy.

American Apparel’s first bankruptcy, filed in 2015, was caused by “a $300 million debt load, intense competition and excess inventory,” according the The Fashion Law. The bankruptcy also occurred on the heels of allegations of misconduct against former Chief Executive Dov Charney’s in 2014. Although Charney denied the allegations, it is still very likely the issue caused the Los Angeles-based company to suffer.

The company, which prides itself on sweatshop-free, Made-in-the-U.S.A clothing, is one of the largest manufacturers in the country. Because prices are relatively affordable at American Apparel (even without a 40 percent-off sale), its competition includes fast fashion retailers, all of which outsource operations to developing countries like Bangladesh. Staying true to its name, American Apparel, chose not change its manufacturing protocol in order to keep up with competition.

When stores eventually close, some 2,000 employees will be laid off, in addition to the 2,400 already affected by the bankruptcy, according to Business Insider. It is unclear whether the online store will remain, or if the company’s social media presence will be archived.

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Monthly favorites posts are my fav to read and watch, so I am super happy I’ve been able to keep up with doing my own this year–granted we’re only two months in. But so far, I’m two for two.

While I’m still into fall/winter styles (think: knitwear, tailored pieces and plaid, as well as dark, vampy and grunge-y makeup), Spring has been on my mind this month (if you couldn’t already tell by the insane number of Polyvore sets I’ve been putting together lately). I’ve been doing my best to transition these styles for the upcoming season.

Beauty-wise, I’ve definitely been loving things in the affordable range. My usual Glossier suspects make up the bulk of what I’ve been reaching for, but there are also a few new bits from ColourPop thrown into the mix.

ColourPop Stippling Brush: Until I purchased this brush, I didn’t get the hype around Tarte’s Shape Tape concealer. I’d been using Shape Tape for months, blending it with my fingers, which gave me good coverage but didn’t “wow” me in the ways that I expected to be wow’d by one of America’s top concealers.

ColourPop’s Stippling Brush has seriously made all the difference; I seriously wish I discovered it sooner. I apply Shape Tape with its doe-foot brush, tap gently with my fingers, then blend and buff with the Stippling Brush for virtually flawless coverage that looks almost airbrushed. I can’t get enough. $8, ColourPop

ColourPop Super Shock Highlighters: I am so addicted to these! I ordered ColourPop’s Super Shock Highlighter in the shade Off Tropic after Christmas when I had a little extra cash, and since then I’ve invested in three others: Might Be, Flexitarian and Over The Moon.

Off Tropic and Flexitarian are perfect everyday shades for me; I keep Might Be and Over The Moon for more fun looks.

Not only are these highlighters super affordable–like, under $10 affordable–they are amazing. They are so smooth that in the pan, they almost feel wet. And they definitely give your face that delicious “wet” look. All four apply so evenly and intensely, either with a setting brush, a fan brush or the ring finger. $8, ColourPop

ColourPop x Kathleenlights Moon Child Lip Gloss: Another ColourPop pick! I promise this post isn’t sponsored in any way; I genuinely love this brand and its products so much.

I am a glossy lip gal; I can never fully get the hang of matte lipsticks despite their popularity. So when I say that Moon Child is hands-down the best lip gloss ever, don’t take it lightly, because I’m not exaggerating.

It has a medium-coverage crème finish (that is the perfect light pink-y nude color) with the tiniest gold flecks. I love how it makes the lips look slightly juicier in the subtlest, most natural way. $6, ColourPop

OLEHENRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Crème: After being pretty unhappy with the previous two eye creams I’ve used, OLEHENRIKSEN’s Banana Bright is so refreshing.

I had previously used Youth To The People’s eye cream, which I honestly kind of hated. Other than the creamy formula, it pretty much sucked. It failed to do virtually anything, and it stung my eyes like crazy almost every time I used it.

After I (finally) finished YTTP’s, I picked up an anti-aging eye gel from OLEHENRIKSEN. While I saw some results with this product, especially as I got towards the end of the container, I didn’t like the gel texture at all.

As soon as I ran out, I ordered OLEHENRIKSEN’s newest cream formula that I’ve heard so much about! And this eye cream is definitely living up to the hype; the texture is amazing, it wears flawlessly under makeup and, so far, it works!

Although the container is small (most eye creams are), a little goes a really long way with Banana Bright. I spread it thin in the morning before makeup, then layer it on thick before bed. $38, Sephora

Herbivore Botanicals Jade Facial Roller: I can’t believe I went this long without using a jade roller! I am so in love. It’s great for getting serums, moisturizer and eye cream deeper into the skin after applying. And when the roller itself is cold, it feels so soothing.

Because I’ve only had it about a month, I can’t say if it truly has any long-term benefits. But I am looking forward to continue use! (Let me know in the comments if you would like an update down the road!) $25, Herbivore Botanicals

Blazer dress from Amuse Society: Like I said, I am all about tailored pieces right now, so a post on how I style this piece is coming soon! I love how versatile this blazer dress is; I can style it for work, a night out or anything in between. It is equal parts serious and sexy. $75, Amuse Society

Gucci Brixton leather Horsebit loafer: I’ve had my eye on these for over a year, so when I landed a new job a few weeks ago, I finally splurged. They are practical, comfortable and so gorgeous. Plus, they won’t ever go out of style. They basically haven’t left my feet since I got them.

There are so many Gucci loafers and slippers to choose from nowadays, but I opted for the pair that can be worn as both. The convertible back can be folded down and flattened, transforming a classic pair of Horsebit loafers into slippers. $730, Gucci

Byredo candles in Peyote Poem and Woods: I mentioned that I’ve been wanting to try these scents in last month’s favorites, so on Valentine’s Day I treated myself to them (after a couple glasses of red).

Can’t decide which one smells better! Both have the musky smell that I love in a candle and in perfumes. (Honestly, everything I’ve smelled from Byredo smells heavenly.)

Every night I’ve been burning one or the other four about an hour to an hour and a half while I read so I don’t go through them to quickly. I can’t live without candles, and these are definitely top-notch. Prices vary, Byredo

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Thrifted vegan moto jacket (Poshmark), Levi’s (Melrose Trading Post) and shoes (NYC)

I am an expert thrifter; my entire family is, really. I grew up thrifting alongside my mom, my aunt and my cousins. (My cousin Devon even bought her wedding gown secondhand from a vintage shop, which is ah-mazing. Hey, Dev!)

Over the years I’ve gathered a ton of tips and tricks for successful thrifting, and I am thrilled to be able to share them with my community. Not only is shopping secondhand an environmentally friendly alternative to fast fashion, it is a great way to find unique, high-quality pieces at an affordable price.

It’s no secret that clothes, shoes, accessories, even home furnishings aren’t made with the craftsmanship of yesteryear, and for this reason alone I believe thrifting is worth the hassle it can sometimes cause.

Thankfully, technology has made thrifting something you can do from the comfort of your couch with a bowl of popcorn. For more of my preferred methods, keep reading!

  1. Your local, trusted tailor is your best friend! This is my first tip because it is the most important! Americans don’t utilize tailors like they used to, and for that reason, we modern Americans suck at dressing ourselves. By supporting your local tailor, you’re actually doing yourself a huge favor, too: not only will you be more comfortable and confident in your clothes, you’ll actually get more wear out of them. Because thrift shops almost always stock one of each piece, it is unlikely all your finds will be the right size. DON’T LET THAT DISCOURAGE YOU. I cannot emphasize this enough! If you find something you love, but it’s a little to big, a little too long, or needs some patching up, take the time to bring it to a tailor you can trust. It’s worth it. This tip is especially useful for petite gals like me; I’ve found that vintage retailers tend to stock sizes 27 (i.e., size 4) and up. Sizes 24 (00), 25 (0) and 26 (2) are super hard to come by.
  2. Download buy & sell apps! Poshmark and Depop are my favs, but there’s also a handful of others like Mercari or even Etsy. You can make bank by selling your own pieces, and you could also score pre-loved goodies from across the country or around the world! Spend a Saturday or Sunday uploading to your virtual closet so that others can shop from you, then settle down and explore what’s out there! Though a scammer may try to contact you every now and then, they are pretty easy to spot, and the apps, which are businesses in and of themselves equipped with 24/7 support teams, are safe and reliable. Poshmark even allows returns if your purchase doesn’t arrive as listed. However, I will say this: STAY ON THE APP AND ONLY BUY/SELL DIRECTLY FROM THE APP. A surefire way to spot a scammer is if they message you, reply to you or comment on your page asking if you’ll buy from them or sell to them off the app (either through Paypal or some other method). Politely tell them that you only buy/sell directly from the app, and block them if necessary. And definitely don’t give them your email address.
  3. Pictures matter! When it comes to selling on apps like Poshmark and Depop, pictures matter! Your potential buyers want to see clear, well-lit, unfiltered and unobstructed images. Think about it–you wouldn’t want to purchase something if the picture of it is crappy, so why would others? Invest some time in taking good quality pictures for your virtual closet (smartphone cameras work fine!), and remember that if you model your pieces, they are more likely to sell.
  4. Be patient! This tip applies to real-life shopping, as well as shopping through apps. Every once in a while, you may get lucky by finding your dream piece right away, but most of the time, it will take time! For this reason, thrifting digitally has a clear advantage over thrifting IRL. Most of the apps allow you to save a piece for future purchase by “liking” it, whereas leaving a piece behind on a thrift store shelf in hopes of finding something better can give you that one-that-got-away feeling. If there’s something super specific you’re looking for, apps are your best bet. You can check for it by typing a word or phrase into the search bar multiple times a day and on multiple different apps to maximize your chances. With a little patience, you’re sure to come across the right one in a matter of weeks, days or even hours! As far as thrifting IRL, strategic searching takes time, energy and even a little research, but it is almost always rewarding!

Some of my absolute favorite pieces were thrifted by yours truly. If you’re in LA and love thrifting as much as I do (or are a first-time who wants to get into thrifting), stop by my go-to spots Melrose Trading Post (open only on Sunday’s–get there early!), Reformation Vintage (8253 Melrose Ave) and Wasteland. The best part is that these spots are all on the same street, with walking distance of one another (although Wasteland has two other locations in Santa Monica and Studio City, both in the LA area).

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Editor’s note: Welcome to the third and final installment of a 3-part series on Haute Mess! This week I’ll be discussing something very close to my heart: Italian fashion. Although I am American by birth, I’m Italian by blood. And, as all my followers, readers and friends know, fashion has been a strong personal interest of mine for as long as I can remember. Lucky for me, the two often overlap; after all, Italy is home to iconic labels like Gucci, Prada, Dolce & Gabbana, Versace, Missoni and La Perla. 

The shift from Europe to Asia is something I noticed on my own, and instantly thought it spoke volumes about the [fashion] industry as a whole. I collected and organized my thoughts into this 3-part essay that focuses on Fiorucci. While Fiorucci isn’t a household name in the same capacity brands like Gucci, Prada or Dolce & Gabbana are, it has been beyond influential for decades–so much so that, in some senses I will discuss, it represents a number of Italian fashion labels as they take on the 21st Century. 

For a complete list of sources, click here


In March 2003 Elio also announced he was closing the doors to Fiorucci’s historic shop in Corso Vittorio Emmaniele, Milan after 36 years. (Orso)

“When Fiorucci hit the scene nearly 40 years ago, he blew Italy—and the rest of the world—away with a larger-than-life attitude. He bought in the new and unexpected, pre-dating the surge of today’s ‘lifestyle’ stores. Fiorucci mixed clothing with beauty products, vintage items, music and home furnishings. He even used his retail space for artistic performances,” (Orso).

While department stores like Bloomingdale’s are known for their home products, such as small kitchen appliances, bedding and even pool tools, Fiorucci was a pioneer in that it *wasn’t* (and still isn’t) a department store. Anything on its shelves besides clothes and shoes is completely unexpected–or at least it was in Fiorucci’s heyday before the label made “lifestyle” boutiques the norm.

Today’s Free People and Anthropologie come to mind, which offer beauty products, books, music, desk supplies and tech accessories, as well as kitchen necessities and home decor in addition to clothes, shoes and accessories.

Free People also takes its so-called “lifestyle” a step further with its popular namesake blog that offers beauty and wellness advice, alongside fashion, music, DIY and recipe posts. And on its online shop, Free People also offers a selection of vintage clothing curated by the FP team. Search “vintage” for retro lace, leather, activewear and more, as well as designer accessories from labels like Gucci, tons of Vogue magazines from the 1970s and 80s and even some rock ‘n’ roll records.

Soon after closing the shop in Milan, Elio became an ethical vegetarian and animal rights activist (Orso). He said the reason he was closing the shop was because he had “fallen out of love” with fashion. At 80-years-old he passed away in July 2015 at his home in Milan, per WWD.com.

Fiorucci store on Brewer Street in London’s Soho [source: Culture Whisper]

The brand was then sold by the Japanese trading house Itochu to Janie Schaffer, ex-CEO of Victoria’s Secret, and her business partner and former husband Stephen, a team from the U.K based in London.

Plans to re-launch Fiorucci began in early 2017 with pop-up shops Barneys (New York), as well as Selfridges and Harrods (London) to gauge consumer interest. A new 3-storey Fiorucci store opened in Brewer St. in London’s Soho neighborhood in September of that year.

Hailey Baldwin in a Fiorucci t-shirt, 2017 [source: candidcelebs.net]

Hailey Baldwin in Fiorucci corduroy pants, 2017 [source: starstyle.com]

Models such as Hailey Baldwin, Romee Strijd, Joan Smalls, as well as blogger Olivia of Olivia By Nature and actress Dakota Johnson have been spotted wearing the label. Big names like Georgia May Jagger (daughter of Rolling Stones frontman Mick Jagger) and musician Cailin Russo appear in recent Fiorucci campaigns.

To celebrate the launch of its new store, Fiorucci hosted a “Disco Christmas” party on December 7, 2017 at the Soho location. Complete with DJs and cocktails, Fiorucci welcomed all its customers and fans via Instagram and email, keeping alive Elio’s tradition of the store being more than just a store.

The brand has a strong social media presence, with over 50 thousand followers on Instagram. Fiorucci used this platform to both send an open invite to its Disco Christmas, and to showcase the event in real time via Instagram’s live streaming tool.

While a ton of aspects from Fiorucci’s heyday remain the same for the brand’s overall vibe, a lot has changed on the business end to keep up with the fashion industry as it adapts to advancements in technology.

Although Fiorucci was sold from Japan to the U.K. in 2015, one cannot help but notice the pattern of Italian labels moving to Asia (alongside the obvious Asian influence in fashion today). Another name that comes to mind is sportswear giant Fila.

Before moving to sportswear in the 1970s, Fila launched in Biella, Italy by two brothers in 1911 (from Fila) as clothing (and underwear) for people of the Italian Alps. The label gained popularity when it was endorsed by tennis player Bjørn Borg.

In 2003 the company was sold to U.S. hedge fund Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus owned Fila through the holding company Sports Brands International, which owned and operated all Fila businesses around the world *except Fila Korea.

Fila Korea acquired the global Fila brand and all its international subsidiaries from SBI in January of 2007, making it the largest South Korean sportswear company. Fila Korea currently holds all of the rights to the worldwide use of footwear and clothing brands of the parent firm.

ANTA Sports acquired rights to use the brand in China (Full Prospect) two years later in 2009 from Belle International. At this point Fila Korea still owned 15 percent of the shares of the joint venture company Full Prospect). (From Anta)

Fila Korea Ltd. Acquired global golf equipment maker Acushnet Company, becoming the new owner of leading golf brands, such as Titleist for $1.23 billion. (Thomas)

Behind-the-scenes of the Diesel A/W 2014 campaign by Formichetti [source: South China Morning Post]

And then there’s Diesel, an edgy Italian streetwear label famous for its denim.

Nicola Formichetti, the son of an Italian pilot and Japanese flight attendant, was named the first artistic director of the Italian label in 2013. Although his contract is set to expire before New Year’s Day 2018, he has brought a ton of Asian influence to the historically Italian label and will be parting ways with Diesel amicably, per WWD.

In an interview with WWD writers Luisa Zargani and Rosemary Feitelberg, Diesel’s founder Renzo Rosso “points out Formichetti’s Japanese background, saying that Japan was very inspirational every season, defining it as ‘the most avant-garde country,’ and one that accounts for 21 percent of Diesel’s business.”

“[Formichetti] also has Italian blood, so he is special. I like him personally, and we complement each other,” Rosso added. (Feitelberg, Zargani)

Additionally, Diesel won’t be appointing a successor to the artistic director just yet.

“I believe this kind of company can work differently, and not in this same kind of direction. There are many things coming up, special projects. The market is very different now. We want to be modern, I want to explore,” Rosso explains to WWD.

Formichetti plans to focus on his own brand Nicopanda, as well as his partnership with Japanese casual wear chain Uniqlo. He also leaves behind an incredible legacy at Diesel, which was formed over the course of just five years. (Feitelberg, Zargani)

“Last year, Diesel held a second megashow in Tokyo to mark the company’s 30th anniversary in that country, presenting the brand’s fall collection readily available in stores and online the same day. Formichetti also curated an exhibition with archival looks from 1978 until today and launched dedicated capsule collections to be distributed in Japan,” per WWD.

This so-called “see-now, buy-now” concept is a popular trend among both well-known and little-known fashion designers, and one that speaks volumes about the “insta-society” in which we live.

WWD also points out that Formichetti was “a pioneer in establishing a web of friends and followers on social media. Formichetti’s ad campaigns for Diesel were aimed at creating an online community.”

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: The Impression]

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: i-D]

Georgia May Jagger for Fiorucci [source: Pinterest]

Cailin Russo for Fiorucci, 2017 [source: InStyle]

Cailin Russo for Fiorucci, 2017 [source: ramtain.com]

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