YMLA to be reborn at former LASC location

The brand will resurface at the new John Reed Fitness complex at 8594 Santa Monica Blvd.

Founded in 1991 by Larry Block and Shirley Fong, YMLA Inc. grew from a local startup to become one of largest young men’s brands in the country. YMLA was twice selected to the INC 500 Fastest Growing Companies in America and recognized by the Los Angeles Business Journal as one of the Top 10 Fastest Growing Companies.

The brand YMLA was famous in the 1990s for pionnering trends, beginning with its roots inside the International Male Catalog, which put Block into business.

“The Rob Grey hot short was our first order,” Block said. “It hit big, and 10,000 units later, we had the biggest selling item in International Male.”

The ‘slinky’ became a national trend and sold over 1 million units. Club YMLA was sold in most major department stores including Macy’s, JC Penney, Belk Stores, and became a staple at leading speciality retailers including The Buckle, Oaktree, Merry-Go-Round, Hot Topic and Gadzooks.

The YMLA California Gym Gear label was sold in all the major sporting goods chains including Sports Authority, Big 5 Sporting Goods, and Sport Chalet.

“Our ‘Dangerous Willie’ brand was sold at Sears and Kohl’s across the nation.” Block said. “We kind of knocked ourself off and everybody wanted to do business with us. It was an incredible time.”

YMLA previously had a flagship store at the Beverly Center before the company was sold in 2002 to Castle Hill Apparel, a large women’s wear manufacturer based in New York City.

Block acquired the rights to the YMLA brand in 2010, when the operations were sold again to the Original Gear Apparel Group and the deal included reverting the rights to the brand back to Block.

The new YMLA WeHo, located at 8594 stands for Young Mens and Ladies Athletic Wear, and will feature premium activewear for both men and women. The concept will attempt to capture core premium fitness customers in just 857 square feet.

“This new YMLA store is a concept store,” Block said. “Instead of its acronym being ‘Young Men of Los Angeles,’ this time around we are Young Mens and Ladies Athletic”.

“Along time ago YMLA was doing a reverse merger into a public shell to acquire the ‘Aca Joe’ company and the deal fell through. A few years later we attempted to take ‘Undergear’ into retail but a change in management at International Male put that idea on the back burner. The goal with YMLA is to be a core gym shop concept that that will grow with and alongside the John Reed Gyms. YMLA used to be a major supplier to Gold’s Gym which is now owned by John Reed. We understand their customer. And the market is shifting. We can be the next Lulu Lemon. ”

“While the lease was being negotiated I could not wait to tell Shirley. But she passed away just a few weeks ago. We will hang her photo on the wall and honor her. Her kids are going to cut the grand opening ribbon. This I promise.” Shirley is watching over us and will be in my heart forever.

Note: Larry Block is also the owner of the BlockParty store and the Managing Director of WEHOville.

0 0 votes
Article Rating

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

13 Comments
Newest
Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Sonic Chaos
Sonic Chaos
5 months ago

Might do better in Palm Springs. No – scratch that – Cathedral City.

Weho resident
Weho resident
5 months ago

Very excited for the new YMLA store to open! I remember being a teenager and visiting the store with all the fun fashion forward merchandise, can’t wait to see what’s coming!!

TomSmart
TomSmart
5 months ago

Sorry, that ship has sailed

Blue eyes
Blue eyes
5 months ago

Glad to see a local business owner taking that space. It seems like weho is disappearing.

Tim
Tim
5 months ago

Did not realize the Block party connection and Larry Block. I will bet there’s still some YMLA in my closet.

Kerrigan
Kerrigan
5 months ago

Congratulations Larry! I’m so excited for what’s to come for you and YMLA and West Hollywood and the world!

Weho Resident
Weho Resident
5 months ago

Is block party closing?

Larry Block
Admin
5 months ago
Reply to  Weho Resident

No BlockParty is not closing. The YMLA store will not include adult items and will focus on premium active and gym apparel, accessories for both men and women.

Randy
Randy
5 months ago
Reply to  Larry Block

Yes, we need this!

Matthew Flanagan
Matthew Flanagan
5 months ago

What a fun great story.

:dpb
:dpb
5 months ago

Huge Congratulations! 🍾 🥂 I still have a few of the YMLA shorts and tanks buried in the dresser somewhere. Lol, I remember when I could wear it well!!!

Michael
Michael
5 months ago

Save me a slinky shirt! I remember it well.

Jose
Jose
5 months ago

I grew up wearing YMLA! So excited!

Click to Hide Advanced Floating Content

0
0
votes
Article Rating
13
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x