Designer Sloane Lenz of This is Sloane is on the road again as she ventures from her native Austin, TX to Los Angeles, CA for a sourcing adventure. Get excited for her next capsule and shop Collection 5 now!

Fabric sourcing for me has always been an interesting topic. I grew up in a small town in East Texas, and so my main source of textiles and fibers was the craft section at our local Walmart (which was actually pretty magical at times), or my local hardware store (industrial plastic sheets or canvas drop cloths). I’ve always been more drawn to the idea of going into a shop and discovering something special and letting it tell me what it wants to be made into. I feel like materials develop into new things you couldn’t have imagined if you let them speak to you.

When I get custom orders or want to make more accessible pieces, I try to go to places with a known selection of surefire inventory, but for the most part for my runway pieces, I try to go out into the world with few things in mind, just colors and general vibes I want to get across. I live in Austin now, and definitely have more options at my fingertips, but I still find myself not being super inspired when I go out sourcing here. Occasionally, Jo-Ann’s will have some magic halloween fabric that’s really strange and perfect, but only once in a blue moon :). I try to get to New York a few times a year, and have a few shops there I really love, but even then sometimes it just doesn’t hit where I need.

I had been wanting to road trip West for awhile, and friends had been telling me lately I had to check out the fabric shops in Los Angeles’ Fashion District. It is a creative center of the fashion industry in LA for wholesale buyers, retail shoppers, designers, fashion students and Hollywood stylists. Over one and a half million people from all around the world visit the District annually and it has a number of stores, wholesalers, suppliers and even residences. The stars aligned and so we hit the road.

We left around midnight and made it to Tucson the next afternoon. The desert and changing landscapes on the way were breathtaking. I think our sleep deprivation made it all the more heightened.

We spent the night at the historic Hotel Congress, which is definitely the perfect pit stop if road trippin’ out that way from Texas. It’s the perfect blend of retaining it’s amazing character, while being a bit more modern and hosting live music in one of their bars almost every night.  

We got up early the next day and headed towards L.A. by way of Palm Springs and Joshua Tree. We had tea at the Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, which is like a dream land lost in desert amazingness. The pool lounge feels like you’re on Mars but somehow found an oasis of early 60’s glamor and atomic ranch motel realness. I can’t wait to make a trip out there and just zone out for a few days.

Anyway, I’m getting lost :). We headed out to Joshua Tree to pay respects to the original cosmic cowboy, Gram Parsons, at the Joshua Tree Inn where he spent his final night in room 8. As the sun set we took off bound for Los Angeles, driving through the desert valleys of wind turbines and mountains almost incomprehensibly large.

We arrived at the Standard in Hollywood, right across the street from the site where the original Source Restaurant once stood, but that’s another story.

The next morning we got up, had tea, and embarked towards the Fashion District. Just driving through I was entranced by the variety of faux furs on display on the sidewalk in the shining sunlight.

First stop was Michael Levine, which was a magic experience. I had never had the pleasure of buying fabric by the pound, and I’m pretty sure it changed my life. In their back room they have bin after bin of loose fabric, some on bolts, some just folded neatly in stacks, and some hidden underneath it all just waiting to be dug up. It was a dream situation for how I like to find textiles. I love the hunt, and knowing anything could be hidden down there, and the universe would make sure it was exactly what I needed. I filled my arms with fabric, and probably could have gone for another few hours, but I wanted to cover a lot of ground so I took my findings to the scale and watched as they weighed it all and tallied up my total. With as grand total of $24, I almost couldn’t believe how perfect of a place I was shopping. I left with two huge bags of everything from glitter striped jersey, to a fluffy blue sweater knit, to a yellow floral stretch velvet I’m obsessed with.

We walked across the street to their other store, which is more like a usual fabric store with bolts and sections and prices by the yard, still amazing in every way. Their ribbon selection was top notch, and I found some trims on sale that are perfect for the new collection. Again, I could have spent a whole day in there, but I got my trims and some blue tulle with little velvet stars on it and hit the streets for a bit more exploring.  

The faux fur is really what caught my eye everywhere else. The amount of colors and textures is amazing, and I could see a dream coat out of this bright yellow fluff I found, but it was a bit out of my budget this time around, but next time it won’t escape. I probably only saw a third of what their district has to offer, but it leaves more surprises for next time. I left with such a clear idea of how I wanted to finish out my new collection, so I couldn’t have been happier.

We left L.A. and headed to San Francisco, passing field after field of blackened land from the wildfires, which was really surreal. It definitely felt like another planet, and then passing the Salton Sea to our left was the cherry on top. We made it to SF and spent a few days exploring all the vintage Haight St. had to offer, and listening to music in Golden Gate Park. We happened upon the windmills by the shore and got to see them spin for a moment while they were exercising their blades. I bought a couple vintage pieces that I couldn’t pass up, and then tried to deconstruct a few pieces in my mind to alter and help inspire a few silhouettes in my new work. There was this cape in the window in one of the shops that was PERFECT, but sadly not for sale, so it’s just living on in my memory and maybe one day will be reborn into something I make.

🌲🌲🌲🌲 #sanfrancisco

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San Francisco offered plenty of inspiration, and L.A. offered all the materials, so now I’m home and getting back to work on Collection 6, fully refreshed with ideas and concepts. Sometimes you just need some long car rides to let you dream and fully realize the story you want to tell through your work. I think stopping and seeing the Milky Way in Fort Davis on the final stretch home was enough to imbue the life into it. I’ve never seen so many stars, and standing in the pure darkness felt like you were floating in space, completely lost in the cosmos. Here we go Collection 6, thanks California for all the good vibes.

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