Korean Makers of American Apparel Ponder Fleeing Business Climate in Los Angeles


Published Date : Sep 02, 2015

Three decades ago, when Daejae Kim reached Los Angeles, he took his first step towards the apparel business in the downtown fashion district. At that time a budding community of Korean entrepreneurs was begging to take ground.

The wife of Kim got a job as a store clerk. And Kim worked in the textile industry peddling textiles. Eventually, the two developed their own manufacturing and wholesale business for the trendy women’s clothing.

Presently, Korean business make for at least a third or possibly half of the businesses’ in this district, which generates at least US$10 billion in revenues annually and provide 20,000 jobs, as stated by the Korean American Apparel Manufacturers Association.

After this, Kim and other American clothing makers from Korea are looking upon a new avenue. 

Due to the stricter labor enforcement, rising minimum wage, and ebbing South American clientele after a federal raid against a money laundering in Los Angeles, Kim and other clothing business owners are pondering with the idea of moving to El Paso.

To keep with the idea, a broker from the border town of Texas is expected to slip into Los Angeles. The discussion is expected to describe factory price, and price per square foot for the business owners. 

And alter in the month, the trade association which constitutes 1800 members has plans to send a group to El Paso.

Though the proposal is in the preliminary stages, only a few companies have expressed interest in the move, as stated by Kim, who is a key person of the decampment.

However, the news is causing nerve run down throughout the ecosystem of Korean realtors, restaurants, and banks that came up along the downtown apparel industry in Los Angeles, which is known as the ‘jobber market’ among Koreans.