The area of LA dubbed “Santee Alley” is the name of just one of a series of alleys and streets in south east downtown LA that make up the Los Angeles Fashion District. But Santee Alley has its own unique spice.
Santee Alley is a hustle and bustle of primarily immagrant merchants operating out of large stalls on a cash-only basis, from 9am till dusk seven days a week. Here, you will find cheap (in quality and price) jewelry and accessories, knock off handbags, super trendy clothing (mostly low quality), a large variety of shoes, and an assortment of toys for both children and adults.
The true origins of Santee Alley are only partly known. Apparently, in the early 1970’s, a man named Steven Jacobs, who owned a warehouse on Santee Alley, regularly observed hundreds of Latina sewers pass by the alley on their way to and from work. With the knowledge that these women avoided most department stores for fear of being deported, he decided to set up a table and put out some inexpensive jewelry. It sold out. He quickly expanded to selling other goods, and more merchants began to appear. Santee Alley has since grown into the expansive collection of vendors that it is today.
Santee Alley is a completely unique LA shopping experience. The extremely high volume of foot traffic at one point drove the rent for stalls so high that it rivaled that of storefronts in Beverly Hills. Fashions are taken from top designers, then reproduced in warehouses with a three week turnaround to be sold at a fraction of the price.
Carve out several hours to get the full experience. Walk around and enjoy the sensory overload of smells, colors and sounds that are Santee Alley. Take note of the signage, there is so much to be enjoyed. Santee Alley is a cornucopia of LA charm. Go experience it.