Introducing L.A.DY Clever, our guide to events and news going on in Los Angeles that are of interest to women. Because a clever lady should know what’s going on in her own backyard.
THROUGHOUT the streets of Los Angeles, it’s not uncommon to see swarms of eager people awaiting the delicious offerings of a food truck. And who can blame them? Traditional taco trucks like La Estrella or Kogi’s — a magical hybrid of Mexican and Korean cuisines — are enough to make anyone withstand a brutal line.
The mobile phenomenon that rapidly exploded in the late 2000s has not only flipped the restaurant business upside down, but has also become a beloved staple to SoCal culture. And the same concept has now rolled into the retail industry, sprouting the fashion truck.
Similar to the eclectic variety of food trucks, no matter your style or tastes — hipster, boho-chic, or environmentally conscious — there’s something for everyone.
There’s Runway Runway, for shoppers looking to spruce up their closets with 14-karat gold jewelry and designer, chic styles. Started by former designer Gayle Shea and her entrepreneurial husband, Henry, this artfully-designed truck can be found all over SoCal from West Hollywood to Malibu, at local charity events, or even parked in your driveway for private events.
If vintage is more for you, Selvedge Dry Goods is worth following in Echo Park or at the L.A. Country Fair. The bright turquoise truck’s proprietress, Los Angeles native Monique Cruz, maintains an inventory of “locally made products for your wardrobe and home” that are eco-friendly and sustainable. She’s watched the boutique trend blossom and attributes the growing popularity to its novelty. “It’s not often you can say, ‘I bought this cute outfit off a truck,'” she said.
But it’s Le Fashion Truck that’s really making its mark on L.A. streets. The boutique travels in a light-pink truck most recently parked outside the Geffen Playhouse, has a relatively good-sized dressing room on-board, and describes itself on Twitter as “featuring emerging designers, handmade jewelry & upcycled vintage. Because fashion is everywhere!”
And that’s exactly what they’re doing, going everywhere.
Back in 2011, Le Fashion Truck owners Stacey Steffe and Jeanine Romo jumped on the emerging business model in retail by starting the American Mobile Retail Association (AMRA). What began with only five members has grown into a touchstone union of sorts for mobile retailers across the U.S. and is expanding globally. Because, just like they said, fashion is everywhere! And no doubt wherever there are fashion and paved roads, there will be trucks.
Opening a mobile store might sound like a breeze, all I need is an old laundry truck that I can clean out and soup up, right? Not quite. But because the mobile retail truck is fairly new there are a whole slew of regulations, permits, and specific city requirements still in the making. And although it can seem easier compared to going the old-school brick and mortar route, obtaining a business license can be hard. Hard, but certainly not impossible.
That’s why AMRA has created this forum for retailers looking to go mobile, spelling out the fine print of what it takes to start and sustain a mobile business through consulting services and webinars, among other mobile retail 101 offerings.
But the biggest appeal for the rookie fashionista is the possibility to save a lot of bucks with a fashion truck. Without the high-priced rent or other typical overhead expenses that come with leasing a store front, retail prices can be substantially marked down. It’s like a dream come true — on wheels — for owners and savvy shoppers.
“The cost of a brick-and-mortar was through the roof,” said Cruz, “and creating a mobile shop is way more innovative, so I decided on the idea and ran with it.” More like drove, amirite?
And so far customers are running towards the trend. In a city as spread out as Los Angeles, having a fashion truck filled with stylish threads that comes to your part of town sounds divine, not to mention the fun spin it puts on shopping in general. And with the help of social media and sites like The Fashion Truck Finder to track the trucks, mobile retail stores are going to continue trucking along.
So next time you drive by a gaggle of people waiting at a food truck, salivating for a Kogi kochi quesadilla, don’t roll your eyes. That could be you waiting to buy your next exciting wardrobe purchase.