We recently had the honor of being featured in Voyage LA magazine! They heard about LAmade’s goals and how the Chang family started this business from the ground up, and decided to get to know us on a more personal level by asking our CEO, Elbert Chang, some questions.
1) How did you get started? How did you get to where you are today?
My parents, Jack and Georgia Chang, are immigrants from Taiwan who moved to Los Angeles in the 70’s chasing the American dream. When they first started their careers here, they had to work 7 days a week to make ends meet. My mom had a design background and always had the desire to design her own clothes. They soon realized their dreams and opened a clothing store in the early 80’s that had 2-3 employees working with them at the time. She did all the design for the clothing and my father sourced all the manufacturing with factories in DTLA.
As the business started growing, my dad wanted to help other immigrants pursue their own American dream. He decided to open his own clothing factory to create more job opportunities in 1988. As the manufacturing business started to become profitable, we launched our own brand “LAmade” in 2004. We are blessed and grateful for the past 15 years to make the great quality clothing we have always been known for.
I am Elbert Chang and currently on board as CEO. We want to take this foundation and grow into a business that wants to do more than just make a great product. We realize that in order to make a true impact in our community, we need to instill a strong company culture. We do this by embodying our LAmade Mantra so we can inspire others - from individuals, to other companies, and eventually to our community.
2) Has it been a smooth road? What were some of the struggles along the way?
While doing any business in LA can be challenging due to the rising cost of labor and overheads in the city, it seems to be more so within the fashion industry.
The garment industry is very labor intensive. Minimum wage has more than doubled since we started 14 years ago.
This is also the reason that many large corporates or chain stores outsource to factories overseas for cheaper labor in order to maximize their profits. Unlike some businesses, we are against practicing fast fashion. There are plenty of reports on companies who pay unfair wages and/or overproduce cheap garments that result in waste harmful to the environment. We pride ourselves in our ability to keep fashion ethical and hope more can join us in this movement.
Despite that roughly only 3% of garments are made in the USA today, we continue to believe in the importance of keeping manufacturing jobs in our hometown and providing employees with a living wage so that they can continue to support their families locally. We started out by making everything 100% in L.A. and will not stop doing so until the end.
3) Tell us about your company. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for. etc. What are you most proud of as a company? What sets you apart from others?
We specialize in designing and making timeless everyday essentials with an LAmade twist. These classic pieces are made from the finest materials cut, sewn, and finished by our makers of the highest levels of skills.
Most of our garments go through a process called “garment dye”.
In general, garment dye is a more expensive, labor intensive, and difficult process for production. However, we have mastered the process throughout the years. Garment dye goes through an industrial wash and launder process which pre-shrinks all the garments and makes them extremely soft and comfortable to wear. Our Tees fit perfectly the first time you try them on and will not change in shape after multiple washes. We believe these are the characteristics and steps necessary in making a high-quality garment.
4) What are your plans for the future? what are you planning for any big changes?
I see the future of LAmade as continuing to:
- inspire our community through our mantra
- inspire the women (and now men!) who shop with us by the manufacturing of quality, elevated basics
- inspire the people behind our brand
– the designers, the cutters, the sewers, the finishers by starting to offer personal and professional development opportunities
- inspire ourselves to strive towards more sustainable practices by increasing our environmental efforts
We are honored to have collaborated with like-minded people in our hometown of Los Angeles. They are inspiring companies or individuals that we have worked with in the past few months who are chasing their dreams and truly making a difference in our community. We believe in building these meaningful relationships and spreading the awareness of locally ethical made goods. Whether on a big or small scale, we believe that we all have the power to make a positive impact to the world we live in.
If you want to read the full article on the Voyage LA site, click the link: