Fashion Trucks Wheel Their Way Into Los Angeles
The food and juice truck craze has been around for years, but the latest trend might seem a little fabricated: fashion trucks.
It's exactly what it sounds like: Fashionistas can get their shopping done from trucks parked around Los Angeles carrying clothes and accessories.
"It's fun, and it's definitely different from shopping at the mall," said Monique Cruz, who owns Selvedge Dry Goods, a vintage clothing boutique on wheels she launched February 2013. "We shop a lot of the estate sales and flea markets, and if an item is in good condition we sell it as is, and if we feel like we can update an item to make it more stylish for the time, we will reconstruct it to fit the time. Everything in the truck is recycled, vintage or handmade."
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Although the idea may seem tailor made for a fashion city like Los Angeles, it's not growing in popularity as rapidly as food trucks did.
"It is definitely evolving, but maybe not as quickly, because there are setbacks being mobile - like permitting per city can be different," Cruz said. "But we finished our first year of business and we're still going. Some people think you just pop up and open your doors, but it doesn't work that way. You have to ask permission from the city before you set up shop."
Stacey Steffe, who co-owns Le Fashion Truck with her partner, said there are a lot of benefits to owning retail trucks.
"It goes back to that idea of location, location, location!" Steffe said. "So I get to work in a city where I might not be able to afford to have a brick and mortar, but I can take my truck there once a week or whatever it is. We can take our mobile boutique to different cities in L.A. County."
The appeal for customers, she said, is they get to shop unique, original items that they might not find in bigger department stores.
"Most of us are making items ourselves, whether it's clothing or jewelry," she said. "And we actually team up with local designers, so we are allowing customers to discover these brands."
Dana Calabrese Ensrud, a Hollywood fashion stylist who studied at Paris College of Art in France, said she loves fashion trucks, but still depends on traditional department stores.
"The appeal is the experience. Everyone wants to run home and tell their friends, 'Look what I bought at a truck!'" Ensrud said. "On one hand, you're creating this fun, fresh new way to shop. But when I'm in a bind on a Friday night, my department store is always there for me. I won't be thinking, 'Let me hunt down that truck.'"
Besides running her truck, Steffe also co-founded the American Mobile Retail Association with a private Facebook page for members where they can get consulting services for a new business, benefits and discounts on certain goods, and network with others in the retail truck community.
"We all go through the same struggle, like finding rules and regulations that allow us to operate. Most cities don't have regulations for mobile boutiques, so it helps people navigate through that," Steffe said. "Other mobile owners can communicate with each other. It's a great networking tool for owners to share suggestions."
Cruz, who posts the Selvedge Dry Goods truck's time and location on Twitter and Instagram weekly, said there is a real appeal to the trucks, especially to tourists.
"Parked on the Santa Monica Pier, we get a lot of international tourists from all of the world and it's always exciting for them to see and something to take back to their country," Cruz said. "When you are on vacation, you want to see something cool and new so they tweet and Instagram about it to their friends, and when they go back home they buy from us online at Etsy.com."