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the industry for the better–they’re alternatives to both fast fashion *and* traditional high-end labels that tend to be outdated and impractical.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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Sustainability is sexy. And like most things in life, I partake in sustainable fashion using the 80/20 rule. That is, I shop sustainably 80 percent of the time (either secondhand or from “slow fashion” retailers like the ones listed below), and indulge in non-sustainable fashion (such as Free People or I.Am.Gia) the remaining 20 percent of the time.

A few months ago I put together a post on my favorite U.S.-based fashion retailers, and while most of those *are* sustainable sources of fashion (looking at you, Backbite, Reformation and Revice), I left out a few notable names.

Hot-As-Hell: With a name like Hot-As-Hell, this definitely isn’t your mother’s sustainable fashion label. So, indulge in ultra-femme lingerie, swimwear, loungewear and ready-to-wear without any of the guilt you’d get shopping at a department store.

Timeless and wearable, HAH’s constructs quality pieces that fit impeccably–thanks to Jacalyn Bennett, a 30-year veteran of lingerie and apparel design.

Per the brand’s website, “HAH is proud to work with vendors who are pioneers in their industries, socially and ecologically conscious and experts in their respective fields.”

Additionally, the label cares about their production methods just as much as it cares about its products and customers.

The site continues, “HAH is committed to minimizing waste, through our smarter usage of resources and raw materials…Ever conscious of the environment and the products we make, we work hard (and smart) to ensure that our legacy is something we can be proud of. In keeping with the HAH ideal of eco-friendly design, we have launched a number of sustainable initiatives…”

Nüdwear: Kick your Victoria’s Secret habit to the curb with Nüdwear, a sustainable lingerie company based in New York. Specializing in no-show bras for the backless, strapless or plunging top lover in you, this innovative, one-of-a-kind label also has a gorgeous selection of slips and robes.

Per Nüdwear, “We feel that it is our responsibility as a brand to minimize our impact on the environment through sustainable manufacturing practices and by using eco-friendly materials, packaging and mailers.”

Sure, nearly every gal loves splurging on a sexy For Love And Lemons or Agent Provocateur set to show off now and then. But, think of Nüdwear as the essential, everyday lingerie you *don’t* want to be seen; looking seamless is the whole point.

Re/Done: If you love denim, you need a pair of Re/Done jeans. I’m not so much of a denim lover as I am a denim obsessor, so I invested in a pair of Re/Done’s Ass Rip Jean: the same as the brand’s signature High Rise Jean, except its pre-torn right below the cheek.

Re/Done–known for its white label–is completely different from any other denim on the market in just about every way possible.

Per the brand’s website, “We take the vintage denim apart at the seams, repurposing it as the fabric of our new jeans…The pair you select on our website is the pair that you will receive at your doorstep. We simplify the tedious process of searching for hours or days to find the perfect looking vintage jeans, then having to find a ‘denim’ tailor to modernize the fit, yet give you that same personalized experience, ultimately taking individuality a step further than anyone else.”

And all of that is done sustainably in the United States.

“We are proud to manufacture our jeans in Downtown Los Angeles using water conserving methods and no harsh chemicals. Quantities will always be limited since each pair is handpicked, hand cut and distinctly one-of-a-kind.”

In addition to *tons* of denim–including jackets, shorts and skirts–Re/Done has an impressive collection of leather, t-shirts, bodysuits and sportswear. Explore #myredones on Insta for a little taste of all the brand’s white-label-clad pieces.

More than just a denim company, Re/Done is “a movement to restore individuality to the luxury fashion space, a movement to keep heritage brands relevant and a movement to create sustainable fashion.”

Enjoy the sustainable look I put together with #myredones (Ass Rips, of course) and a simple-yet-sexy ribbed tank from Reformation Vintage.

As Re/Done’s site states, these jeans took a little breaking in before they felt right. The racerback tank, however, was killer from the second I put it on. It has that perfectly flattering fit, plus it’s COMFORTABLE and looks amazing with just about everything. (And it’s just the right amount of see-through). I want to wear it all day, every day. (I’m definitely going to grab a couple more next time I’m in L.A.)

I’m also wearing Red Earth’s Have Fun Lipstick Matches in a gorgeous coral-red color; such a creamy and buildable formula. Peep the super cute packaging, too! I’ve been having so much fun testing out this brand’s range.

Shop my look:

Tank top, Reformation Vintage (Melrose Ave, Los Angeles)

Jeans, Re/Done, similar here

Have Fun Lipstick Matches, Red Earth

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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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Editor’s note: Welcome to the first 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 fashion labels as they take on the 21st Century. 

For a complete list of sources, click here


A peek inside Amsterdam’s Fiorucci store, which contained a cafe. [source: CNN]

Perhaps no other brand in (modern) history has been more influential to fashion than Milan-born Fiorucci. Credited with designing the first pair of women’s fashion jeans, it is really quite a shock that Fiorucci is not more of a household name, compared to other high-end labels like Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

In the 1990s, in an effort to save the failing brand, the Tacchella brothers (of Italian jeans company Carrera S.P.A.) sold Fiorucci to Japanese jeans group Edwin Co., Ltd. for 45 billion Lire (or approximately $41 million USD). This created a domino effect that saw other major Italian labels, such as sportswear giant Fila, move to Asia.

Two angels [source: Pinterest]

But the story starts in 1962 when Milan native Elio Fiorucci, the son of a shoe shop owner, created bright, primary color galoshes. His idea went on to be featured in a local fashion magazine and were a sensation.

After traveling to London in 1965, a 20-year-old Elio was inspired to bring Carnaby Street style back to Milan. Two years later, Elio opened his first shop in Milan, which sold clothes by London designers such as Ossie Clark and Zandra Rhodes. Still today, Fiorucci marries London street style with Dolce Vita luxury.

It was in 1968 that Elio began taking inspiration from the East. He sold cheap t-shirts from India and turned rice sacks into handbags.

By the mid-1970s the Fiorucci label was thriving. A huge new store on Milan’s Via Torino opened, selling not only fashion, but books, furniture and music. It had a live performance area, a vintage clothing market and a restaurant. The company set up its own manufacturing plant four years prior, and adopted its infamous “two angels” logo from Italo Lupo. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

The store was financed by an investment from Standa department stores (part of Montedison group). (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Monokini [source: Pinterest]

During this time, the label introduced Europe to styles from Brazil, such as the monokini and the thong. It also caused quite a controversy by printing topless women in its advertisements. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Fiorucci opened its first overseas store in 1975 on London’s King’s Road; it launched a children’s collection called Fioruccino that same year. The label also brought Afghan coats to the mass market and popularized leopard-skin prints, which were first created by Elsa Schiaparelli two decades prior. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

The label made its way to the U.S. in 1976 when it opened a store on East 59th street, between Lexington and Park Avenues, in New York City—down the block from Bloomingdale’s. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps).

Customers included fashion designers Marc Jacobs and Calvin Klein, Jackie Onassis and Gloria Vanderbilt, actress Lauren Bacall, British mogul Terence Conran, Cher (Chaplin), author Douglas Coupland (Colman) and Juan Carlos I, the King of Spain (Lahr).

As the brand continued to thrive, it hired big-name employees by the 1980s. Fiorucci’s art director was designer Maripol, who created Madonna’s looks at the time. Other notable names included Madonna’s brother Christopher Ciccone, i-D magazine’s Terry Jones, Oliviero Toscani (who shot many famous Benetton ads) and famed interior designer Jim Walrod (Chaplin).

Late actress Farrah Fawcett in Fiorucci jeans [source: CNN]

Fiorucci’s hottest new products at the time included a collection made from DuPont’s Tyrek fabric and velvet slippers from China. And in 1978, Fiorucci became the first fashion house to license its name for a collection of sunglasses. New stores launched across the U.S., Europe and Asia. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Three years later in 1981, a Disney license led to a highly successful range of Mickey Mouse pieces. That same year, Fiorucci sponsored the reunion of Simon and Garfunkel at The Concert In Central Park, which attracted more than 400,000 attendees. A then-unknown Madonna played the labels birthday party in 1983. (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

A 1974 Fiorucci ad [source: The Historialist]

In 1982, however, Fiorucci launched the first-ever stretch jeans with Lycra. The success of the label’s 5-pocket “safety” jeans was recognized three years later in a licensing deal with Wrangler Jeans. And in 1989, Fiorucci went back to its British roots with a deal with Vivienne Westwood (i.e., the “queen of the London street scene”). (From Memorabilia: Fiorucci’s Steps)

Per a video interview by Il Bel Gioco, Elio Fiorucci says, “I changed denim, which was working clothing, into something [that] makes the [wearer] beautiful.”

[Source: Il Bel Gioco via YouTube]
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