As of Thursday, April 2, 2020
With extensive fashion-industry careers, Cinzia Simone and Irene Kim have created a brand that they are building at a slower pace than the fast-fashion norms that were formerly dominating the industry. Simone’s experience includes Guess USA, while Kim is part of the fashion agency WHouseLA.
Through their new venture, Found Los Angeles, the pair is moving into more-sustainable practices and local production with its next collection. By using organic-cotton resources, in addition to projects that rely on recycled yarns, Simone and Kim are contributing to a cleaner fashion process.
In addition to its green-manufacturing practices, Found Los Angeles is made locally in its namesake city. Utilizing the resources of Los Angeles’ manufacturing community to create more-ecologically sound goods was important to the women who developed Found Los Angeles as they wanted to support the domestic garment-making industry. Factory partners include businesses owned by single mothers and the female owners of a laundry that employs a staff of all women.
“We wanted it to be sustainable yet affordable,” Simone said. “All these sustainable brands are offering knits for $200, but they’re made overseas. Our goal is not to make the highest margin possible. We want to deliver a product that is nice, affordable, has longevity and is made locally by women.”
The concept has existed for four years, and the women launched with private label one year ago with a focus on domestic manufacturing. With their own Found Los Angeles pieces, Simone and Kim are shifting the traditional model of manufacturing through a direct-to-consumer model, which will also include capsule collections with select retailers.
“We don’t want to contribute any more to a traditional way of manufacturing. We’re recycling as much as we can,” Kim explained. “It’s better off for the environment and the wearer. We just need to be more conscious overall.”
In addition to their e-commerce site, the women are starting to receive interest from major retailers. The brand’s first collection was a capsule with Nordstrom that included knits with vintage-inspired cuts and styles. There are hand-dyed sweatshirts with refined necklines in trending prints such as leopard, in addition to long-sleeved crew-neck T-shirts with fuller sleeves in colorful polka dots. Using an enzyme-based wash, the brand was able to help Nordstrom bring in an eco-friendlier collection while relying on updated styles that incorporate elements from a bygone era.
“It’s called Found Los Angeles because we have an extensive library of vintage pieces,” Simone said. “Every piece is based on a found piece, whether it’s the wash or the color or the print. It will always have that iconic Americana, retro feeling.”
For the next collection, the brand’s first outside of the Nordstrom line, set to launch in June for the back-to-school shopping season, Found Los Angeles will release its Fall 2020 pieces with mixed media in sweatsuits with a luxurious hand that can create a dressier look. Cuts will include pants in a wide leg and tops with more-formal sleeves such as bell silhouettes and bishop styles. With plans to grow from this collection, which is based on organic cotton, recycled yarns and sustainable washes, the women of Found Los Angeles are looking ahead.
“It’s easier to switch to organic cotton, recycled yarn and use enzymes to break down the fabrics. But it takes knowledge,” Simone said. “In the future, sustainable is just a given.”
In addition to maintaining sustainable practices, Kim is hoping to put her passion into more social causes through the brand such as a potential clothing-recycling program. This type of initiative would allow the women to continue their support of domestic manufacturing yet in a way that reduces waste.
“We could work with ThreadUp or Goodwill,” Kim said. “Some kind of program where the consumer could send in pieces that they don’t use anymore, they could receive a credit for our site and we can find ways of recycling garments so they go to people who need them.”
Retail price points range from $50 for a T-shirt to $138 for a new denim collection, which is set to launch for Spring 2021. Found Los Angeles will continue to focus on offering luxurious pieces at affordable price points. The collection is available in sizes XS–XXL and is sold online at foundlosangeles.com.