Ciel and I took the lovely Emmi down here for the first time on Saturday and had a blast! I needed to purchase some fabric for my WonderCon costume (!) and wanted to buy more $1 rings from my favorite "ring guy".
What I wore, well minus the boots. Downtown shopping is sneaker territory! My boyfriend said I looked like a Lisa Frank character, fine by me!
My tips for shopping in the Fashion District:
1. Bring cash, most places don't accept cards and you'll typically get a better deal if you pay with cash.
2. Do not park at a meter unless you're going to be 30 minutes or less. The meters charge absurdly high prices. Just pay $3 to park at a lot. My favorite lot is on Maple at Wall.
3. It's best to go during the week and earlier in the day if you can. It gets hella hot and hella crowded. Most shops close early around 4 or 5pm.
4. Try the "alley dog" at least once, get a lot of napkins. It's a bacon wrapped hotdog piled high with avocado and pico de gallo.
5. Bring a backpack or shopper tote for all your purchases. BE GREEN!
6. Don't be afraid to haggle. Worst case the vendor says no, best case? You get an amazing deal!
7. Don't bring a bulky purse and wear comfortable shoes. You'll be weaving through a lot of people and covering a lot of ground. Dress accordingly.
8. Don't be afraid to explore! There are a lot of shops and some are better than others but...
9. Be alert. There are some sketchy people in this part of town. Be smart and stay in populated, well lit areas and if a street looks sketchy don't go down it.
Now that I've given some tips, here are some pictures to help you shop.
My favorite place to buy accessories is on the corner of Maple/Olympic. Most all their items are $1. A really nice Asian family owns this place. Usually the husband is outside. He'll give you a ring box to store all your $1 rings in. Well at least he gives me one because I buy at least 5 every time I go, haha.
I usually avoid Santee Alley (look for the yellow banner hanging above the alley) because it's so congested...
but then you see booths like this and all is forgotten. Everything in this pic was $1.
The alley has apparel, shoes (most $20), handbags, and accessories. Just ignore all the people yelling at you to shop at their place and say simple no thank yous to the overly helpful shoe people. They are super aggressive albeit nice.
OK, now onto fabric! This is my fave place, it's also at Maple/Wall. Looks like they have expanded recently into the next shop over. If you need fur this is THE place to get it, stupid cheap. I also get my stretch vinyl here for $5 a yard. Same stuff is like $13 a yard at Joann's.
What up Superman?! They also have a faux fur remnant bin which is awesome if you just need a little bit to accent your costume.
Ok now for you crafters, this is a great place to buy rhinestones, little charms, fasteners etc. It's predominately for Quinceañera stuff but there is a ton of adorable stuff here for cutesy crafts. Lolita and fairy-kei fans, that means you!
This store is also next to Michael Levine which also has cheap fabric finds, notions, buttons etc. Michael Levin's is an actual store and not a stall. I do go here but you can typically find cheaper finds at the stalls. I think most people just like coming here because you don't really have to dig around. It's great for one stop shopping if you're in a hurry. They have both home fabrics, next to Maple craft, and apparel fabrics across the street.
Keep in mind this barely scratches the surface of the shops down here. There are tons. I encourage to explore and find YOUR favorite shops. Have fun!