Althouse Closes Store, Rejoins American Rag

Jennifer Althouse rejoined prominent retailer American Rag Cie shortly after closing her self-named Althouse boutique in downtown Los Angeles in January. She will serve the retailer as an executive vice president.

“I love people with courage and guts,” Mark Werts, American Rag’s founder, said of Althouse. “She was one of the early people to take a stab at downtown Los Angeles. It didn’t work out, and she came home. Everyone in the industry likes her.”

Althouse said that she and Werts talked after she closed her boutique and she was offered a job. “I feel very lucky and fortunate that I am able to come back to American Rag. It’s an institution known all over the world,” she said.

Althouse worked as a senior buyer for American Rag from 2004 to 2011. She left for a design stint at Joe’s Jeans and followed that up with a gig as a director of merchandising at Planet Blue. Later, she ran the design and contemporary boutique Althouse at 761 S. Main St., a block away from the main drag of Los Angeles’ fashion district.

Her first day on the American Rag job was Feb. 6. Werts said that she will be working with American Rag’s buying team as well as assuming some management duties from Werts and Susan Starr, American Rag’s president. “It will allow us to realize some projects that we’ve dreamed about doing but we haven’t had the time,” Werts said.

While downtown Los Angeles is in the middle of a construction boom, Althouse said that she needed to close her shop because she dove into the market too early. “The foot traffic was just not there. It really affected my cash flow,” she said. “I think it will be another three years until foot traffic gets better.”

Construction also posed a constant challenge. Many of downtown Los Angeles’ new buildings are being constructed on the sites of former parking lots. Shoppers from the affluent Hollywood Hills and Hancock Park sections of Los Angeles had a tougher time finding a place to park in downtown, Althouse said. It wrecked her plans to become a destination store. Her street’s construction barricades made it look like her shop was closed, she said.

“It’s going to be amazing, but I couldn’t hold on until then,” she said of downtown Los Angeles.