GTLA Apparel is a Fashion House That Looks Out for Its Employees
The spotlight is aimed on Guadalupe Tlatenchi, the owner of GTLA Apparel Development, Inc. Recently, Tlatenchi was one of our three honorees given the Women’s History Month award at our HerStory Pitch Competition in March.
The Granddaughter of a Garment Worker
Even in high school, Guadalupe Tlatenchi knew how to sew. Tlatenchi’s grandmother was a garment worker and served as her first introduction to the world of fashion.
Tlatenchi attended LA Trade Tech Community College, where she gained more experience and pattern-making. By the time she enrolled at the Fashion Institute for Design and Merchandising (FIDM), Tlatenchi knew she wanted to work in fashion. Post-FIDM, Tlatenchi began a job as a pattern-maker, then design director.
Tlatenchi noticed discrepancies and gaps during her tenure as a design director; she began to clock sustainability issues, ethical malpractices, and poor treatment of garment workers. Additionally, from a production standpoint, Tlatenchi noted that product didn’t meet quality control or timelines, as well as a lack of compliance.
“Because my grandma was in the garment industry, I didn’t want to be part of businesses that perpetuated that treatment. At the time , this treatment went unnoticed in the fashion industry. I realized, I have to do this on my own and be involved in every step. To control the whole process, I jumped into the middle of it.”
Disrupting the Fashion Industry
In 2017, Tlatenchi founded GTLA Apparel Development, Inc., an all-phase apparel manufacturer. In laymen’s terms, the fashion house can be compared to a general contractor. From concept to completion, GTLA Apparel Development deals with designs, sourcing of materials, construction of garments – even down to an in-house sample maker. GTLA Apparel Development provides fittings in their office in downtown Los Angeles, and once approval is reached, the product then goes into production and “grading,” or sizing of the garments. The majority of GTLA Apparel Development’s services are in-house, but any services that are outsourced are sent to local vendors.
Tlatenchi is rightfully proud of her company’s relationships with local dye houses, fabric mills, and other fashion industry service providers.
I was born and raised in South Los Angeles. One of the most important values to me is creating and providing jobs in LA to people in the community.
GTLA Apparel Development prioritizes size inclusivity, ethical manufacturing, and a working wage, in addition to providing services that stay on time, on budget, and to the client’s expectations. GTLA Apparel Development has crafted a direct response to many of the discrepancies and gaps that Tlatenchi saw during her years in the fashion industry.
It all starts with us. In any other factory, there’s always fast-paced movement among the workers, especially with fast fashion. When people walk into our building and see our team, they see the way it’s supposed to be. It’s so important to me to provide a good work environment and company culture. My team likes what they do and looks forward to coming in to work.Guadalupe Tlatenchi
From the foundation of a healthy internal team, Tlatenchi seeks healthy business relationships and suitable business partners:
Who do we really want to work with? What kind of work do we want to do?
Our cost of goods is higher, but it’s because we value higher-quality clothing and craftsmanship behind every piece. We are also eco-friendly, so we work with brands that utilize biodegradable materials. We also have smaller batch production and lower quantities.
A Relationship with VSEDC
Tlatenchi was introduced to VSEDC through Jonathan Kinnard, one of our Business Coaches and the owner of Coffee del Mundo. The two initially met through being in the same cohort for PledgeLA, a diversity-minded coalition and Grid 110, an entrepreneurial accelerator.
In 2022, Tlatenchi entered herself into our Latino Heritage Month Pitch Competition, where she secured second place.
“As a first-generation business owner, having nobody to guide you with your own business is difficult. VSEDC is part of my community, and focused on helping business owners like myself. I always recommend VSEDC to my peers and say, ‘there’s help out there!’”
Recently, we honored Guadalupe Tlatenchi at our latest signature event, the HerStory Pitch Competition. We lauded Tlatenchi for her contributions to the Los Angeles community, as well as her unwavering commitment to ethical production and sustainability.
The Future of the Fashion House
Currently, Tlatenchi is in the process of rebranding Loopé, her sustainable lifestyle brand housed under GTLA Apparel Development. Loopé’s fashion line consists of small batch ethical production that is made locally with the use of up-cycled dead-stock materials.
As for GTLA, Tlatenchi is hard at work on their blanks program that allows any small business owner to create their own merch with blank crewnecks, t-shirts, and other products. Tlatenchi is excited about the modern silhouettes of their blanks, created in the oversized, streetwear style.
She is also working on an in-house photo studio that people can rent at GTLA Apparel Development’s headquarters.
“Looking back, I always had the vision of a creative space, where creatives get together. GTLA Apparel Development is a fashion house, not just a manufacturing shop.”