by Stephen Garner
MR JULY 2018 Menelik Puryear
Photo by Menelik Puryear

Late last year, I was lucky enough to spend a few weeks (with a break in between) in Los Angeles. I went because I felt a desire, a need, to visit and explore more of what the city has to offer. Because for some time, I’ve been losing quite a few of my New York friends (some of which I’ve known since my FIT days) to the City of Angels. It’s true, most of my fashion school cohorts I graduated with have moved west, and they’re not the only ones. Quite frankly, there seems to be a migration of sorts upon us. Many New York creatives have decided to trade in their sardine can-sized apartments for the land of eternal sunshine. And I wanted to know why!

So, I packed my bags and headed to La La Land on a very ambitious mission to see as many retailers and designers as I could in three days. What resulted was a lot of chuckles from locals saying “you’re never going to get six appointments done in one day, there’s too much traffic,” or, my personal favorite, “what’s the rush?” Boy, if I had a nickel… Anyway, I proved them wrong in the end. And, sure, I got back to my hotel at 10 pm every night starved and completely spent, but I loved it – I was living my California dreamin’ fantasy.

The obvious reasons as to why so many Millennials are flocking west are evident – the idyllic weather and gorgeous sunsets are nothing to scoff at (although, as a native east coaster, the faint hint of wildfire smoke lingering in the air as I dined al fresco was a bit alarming). But the more time I spent speaking with designers and retailers, an overwhelming creative energy became more and more palpable.

So tangible that I’m here to let you on a little secret: The myth that Angelinos don’t possess enough work ethic (compared to the back-breaking, unhealthy New York workaholic mentality) was completely debunked. The people I met during my time in L.A. are some of the most innovative and hardworking retailers and designers out there. Not one of them complained about poor sales. Not one of them asked me “how to get a younger consumer”. They just get it. They get that you have to evolve to stay interesting. And, for some, moving to southern California helped them do just that.

So, what’s the big answer to my big question? You’ll have to continue on to find out. I’m not going to give it away that easily.