LOS ANGELES — Designers often sell off excess inventory at sample sales, but the likes of Richard Tyler, David Hayes and Peter Cohen have an avenue for scraps and pieces of leftover fabric.
They often turn to S. Rimmon & Co., a 50-year-old mainstay in Los Angeles textiles.
Located off Pico Boulevard in the city’s Westside and adjacent to a La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries store, the firm isn’t visible from the street. That’s perhaps a nod to the low profile it has maintained since its beginnings as a sales office known for its European textiles, which it sold to designers such as Rudi Gernreich and William Pearson.
When the casual craze swept the region, the company shifted its focus in the Seventies to selling materials to fabric stores, then added the niche designer component in the last decade.
The firm was founded by Sinclair Rimmon and his wife, Joan. It is now run by sons Ron, who oversees fabric buying and selling, and Dan, a sales representative, and daughter Adina, who is the warehouse manager.
“We figure we can’t be everything to everybody, so we like to work under the radar,” said Ron Rimmon.
The warehouse-style office can carry as many as 1,000 incomplete bolts of usually high-end fabric, cycling through 25 percent of the product in just two weeks. In stock last week were floral chiffons, a Tencel and rayon blend in a checkered pattern, brocades, sheepskin, alpaca and a blue and peach ethnic pattern shot through with gold.
Ron Rimmon’s average purchase is about 50 to 100 bolts of product in 10- to 100-yard increments that he’s willing to sell at five yards a pop. Recently, he bought 100 yards of fabric from a customer that originally sold for $121 a yard. He paid “less than $30” a yard and sold it for about $30 a yard. Cardboard circular bins stock some of the bargain-basement product — silks, solids and linings — that may be sold from $1 to $10 for the bolt.
The operation is a bit of a gold mine for smaller or high-end designers looking for ways to create one-offs, or clothing that would be hard to replicate. It is also a place for clothing firms to sell unneeded goods.
Sales are less than $1 million and Rimmon is looking for ways to expand the business. Last year, the company began representing Liberty of London’s home fabrics in the U.S. Occasionally, he also gets the trim bug, especially while traveling. A visit to Buenos Aires led to the purchase of a few dozen trinkets made with a leather strap and colorful Sweet Tart-sized buttons that he sold to a local retailer for double what he paid.
But he’s not looking to get too big. The family likes to run a loosely knit organization. Dan Rimmon lives in San Diego, where he likes to surf. Adina Rimmon also can tend to her hobbies, such as designing baby blankets and aprons. Their brother prefers to be the worker bee.
“I like to work,” he said, noting it takes a little time, patience or just “one phone call” to snare that fabric deal.