News & Opinion | February 27, 2021 9:25 pm

Fred Segal, Influential LA Fashion Retailer, Dead at 87

He helped put LA fashion on the map

Babakul Store Opening at Fred Segal Santa Monica
Camille Grammer and Fred Segal attend the opening of Babakul at Fred Segal on December 9, 2010 in Santa Monica, California.
Chris Weeks/WireImage

How do you define the sartorial style of a given city? When it comes to Los Angeles, retailer Fred Segal certainly played a major role in developing a certain look now forever associated with the city in question. Segal died on Friday at the age of 87; Deadline reports that the cause was complications resulting from a stroke.

Segal opened his first store in Los Angeles in 1960, and a second followed in 1961. In the latter, only one item was made available for sale: jeans. Jeans which were, given the era, unexpectedly expensive — $19.95 when most brands retailed for $3.00.

His gambit paid off, and soon his stores were attracting a famous clientele. The New York Times notes, in their obituary for Segal, that his clients included The Beatles, Diana Ross, Elvis Presley and the Jackson Five.

Segal’s own designs created a distinctive look all their own. Writing at the Times, Maria Cramer succinctly described one sartorial mode: “Pants were cut for men so they would fall low on the hips, for instance, and his stores also sold tightfitting French T-shirts and Danskin leotards.”

The stores Segal founded became iconic in their own right, and were alluded to in films like Legally Blonde and Clueless. And over the years, they maintained their reputation as some of the best places to buy clothing in LA. With Segal’s death, an era in style draws to a close — but his legacy seems primed to endure for years to come.

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