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California Fashion Design Makes Waves

by Amelia Gray
FashionCareerCenter Columnist

Cities all over sunny California have become the fashion destination of the stylish West Coast. For designers in California, mixing casual with couture is a welcome challenge.

The nation may look to New York for its fashion cues during Fashion Week every September, but many heads turn west to California for refreshing, light style that takes its cues more from the boardwalk than Broadway. Even in fashion metropolis Los Angeles, fashion design school students learn that casual looks reign over formal style. The state that Hollywood and Orange County call home is host to a wealth of successful fashion designers and upstart houses alike.

From Humble Roots to High Fashion
Designers take their inspiration from all corners of life, and Tom K. Nguyen's start in fashion came from family. Nguyen grew up with five older sisters and was immediately enthralled with "the creativity and excitement of a woman's personal style." His love of photography translated well into a career in fashion design, as he pored over the light and shadow in photographs by Helmut Newton and Herb Ritts.

After working his way up the Los Angeles fashion scene, Nguyen landed the career of a lifetime in 2000, as head designer at Poleci, one of the West Coast's leading design houses. His confident collections have earned him accolades, including a California Designer of the Year Award. Nguyen's clients include celebrities like Mischa Barton, Jessica Alba, and Terri Hatcher.

Fashion's Casual Destination
Graduates of fashion design schools across the West Coast flock to The Golden State for obvious reasons. Los Angeles' Fashion Week is an October event that foretells the coming stylish year. After Fashion Week, the wholesale, textile, and design houses in Los Angeles' Fashion District make for prime inspiration and window-shopping. San Francisco's Garment District offers bargain shopping, while areas like Haight Street revive the city's funky attitude. The fashionable congregate in shopping districts like the Third Street Promenade in Downtown Santa Monica.

California fashion reinvents itself every month, rolling out hip styles for the season along with design classics for every season. For fashion designers, California is a huge market, with room to grow in every direction.

Sources:
Tom K. Nguyen
Poleci: Company Profile

About the Author
Amelia Gray is a teacher and freelance writer in San Marcos, TX. Amelia earned a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Arizona State University.