Rue21 to Open a Buying Office in Los Angeles Fashion District

Rue21, the fast-fashion enterprise that now has more than 700 bricks-and-mortar stores across the country, is opening a West Coast buying office in Los Angeles to be closer to clothing manufacturers that supply the company.

The new office will be located at Stanford Plaza at 810 E. Pico Blvd. and will be close to the San Pedro Wholesale Mart, where many fast-fashion manufacturers have their showrooms and offices.

“We are thrilled to be in California,” said Michael Appel, the chief executive of the decades-old company headquartered outside of Pittsburgh in Warrendale, Penn. “It is really another step forward for Rue21.”

Heading up the office will be Kara Stangl, who previously worked as vice president and divisional merchandising manager at Wet Seal, the retailer who went bankrupt and whose brand name was then acquired in 2017 by the Gordon Brothers Group. Stangl also was vice president of accessories at Dots and senior vice president at Charlotte Russe.

Stangl was named vice president and divisional merchandise manager at the company and will report to Karen Pinney, Rue21’s senior vice president and chief merchandising officer.

Appel said Stangl will be joined by three to five other people in the office and will be visiting vendors and seeking out new resources. “We felt we just needed a beachhead in Los Angeles,” Appel said, noting that Rue21 buyers are in Los Angeles frequently to check out fashions for juniors, juniors plus sizes and young men’s, who are the customers that shop Rue21.

“Our merchandising team is in Los Angeles at least one week or two weeks a month. This gives us an opportunity to have an office, meet with vendors and really have a permanent presence out there,” Appel added.

Pinney said that the new office will also help the company source shoes from L.A. companies. “There is a significant opportunity for our growth in footwear, a ‘white space’ created with the recent demise of both Charlotte Russe and Payless Shoes,” Pinney said.