Focus On: Buttons
Like jewelry for clothing, buttons are often the finishing touch that completes a look. For some costume designers, buttons are such an essential element that they must be specially sourced or even custom made. Several button manufacturers are happy to rise to the challenge of selling or making buttons to match any style or period.
“It’s fun to hear that someone is making a suit for Tom Cruise,” says Linda Lager, a representative with Tiger Button Co. in downtown Los Angeles. “It makes the button business a little more glamorous.”
Here is a selection of area manufacturers.
The Button Store
8344 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles.
The Button Store is such an unusual resource that it’s practically a tourist attraction. It’s been voted a favorite destination for shoppers by area magazines and websites. Yet it’s the vast array of buttons of every shape, size, color, material and era that draws costume designers to the store on a trendy stretch of Third Street near Beverly Hills.
The Button Store offers a vast array of vintage and antique buttons and accessories with no minimum purchase. Many thousands of buttons are stocked in neat boxes in shelves that line the boutique’s walls, while vintage and antique buttons are carefully arranged in glass display cases.
The Button Store routinely handles custom orders, volume production and even reproduction of vintage and antique buttons, guided by the expert assistance of company president Faye Moattar, who has decades of experience in the notions industry and as a former dressmaker. Turnaround is within two to three weeks.
Moattar says the shop helped provide 10,000 buttons for “Titanic,” and has been the source of buttons for “Dreamgirls,” “Alice in Wonderland” and “Revenge.”
The Button Store also can arrange for one-on-one appointments for film, television and theater designers who need special assistance finding just the right look. Prices range from a few cents to $500, but most of the finer buttons are priced from $3 to $4. Quantity discounts are available.
“Different people, different tastes,” says Moattar. “That’s why I have so many buttons.”
Tiger Button Company
117 W. Ninth St., Ste. 806, Los Angeles.
The Los Angeles showroom for Tiger Button is located across from the California Market Center in downtown Los Angeles, strategically nearby to the clothing manufacturers that make up most of its business. Los Angeles representative Linda Lager welcomes costume designers to the showroom, where they may place orders that are shipped directly to them, sometimes overnight. Lager says Tiger Button specializes in high-end, unique kinds of buttons, such as genuine horn, leather, metals, rhinestones and even buttons with laser-etched names or designs.
“People sometimes find a vintage button at a flea market and we’ll source that for them by trying to find something similar,” says Lager, who can meet by appointment at the showroom or other locations. She recently supplied Western Costume Co. with buttons.
The minimum order is a gross, which can cost from $5 to $50 or even $75, she says. “Just come in and pick what you want and we’ll send it off,” Lager says.
International Silks and Woolens Inc.
8347 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.
“Anything you can think of in buttons, we have,” says Souhail Israwi, co-owner of the fabric and sewing supply store known for carrying 100,000 different fabrics. “We carry a lot of vintage buttons, and everything for men’s suiting and women’s clothing.” In addition, the inventory includes an enormous notions department that stocks snaps and every manner of button thread.
The store is regularly shopped by representatives from “Dancing With the Stars” and works regularly with Western Costume Co. and Costume Designer Colleen Atwood, says Israwi. The store’s generous studio services policies allow designers to take merchandise on memo, without a restocking fee.
“They can return what they don’t use, free of charge,” says Israwi. Prices are retail, and range from a few cents per button to $10 for specialty buttons and adornments.
Michael Levine Inc.
920 Maple Ave., Los Angeles.
Costume designers can shop the huge store’s inventory of buttons and notions on the website, which conveniently lists them by category – bridal, pearl, plastic, resin, rhinestone and more. But little compares to strolling the aisles of the downtown Los Angeles store, surrounded by thousands of bolts of fabric and racks of twinkling buttons.
The store offers Costume Designers a 10 percent discount off the retail prices. The website also lists a monthly calendar of specials and discounts, which includes a 20 percent discount on all carded notions on April 27. Across the street at 917 Maple in the Loft, the store sells fabric by the pound.
B. Black & Sons
548 S. Los Angeles St., Los Angeles.
For 92 years, B. Black & Sons has served the Los Angeles community at large as a woolen, tailoring and seamstress supply house, says Andrew Volk, fourth-generation member of the founding family. “Anything you need to construct a garment, including buttons, we carry.” The operation focuses mostly on high-end supplies for tailored clothing, with hard-to-find fabrics, but also carries a large selection of sophisticated buttons, such as horn buttons for suits and their lookalikes in plastic.
Their button inventory is strong on suit and shirt buttons, and includes buttons for suspenders, overcoats, nautical styles and a few rhinestones and crystals. Volk says the store also sells some of its vintage back stock, some nearly as old as the business itself. “We also have hard-to-find hardware for neckties and bowties, and tie interfacing.”
Costume designers don’t have to meet a minimum order; prices are wholesale, and most items are in stock and available for immediate purchase. Expect to pay from 30 cents to $4 per button.
The Button Accessory Collection
152 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles.
The store’s specialties are buttons, hardware, buckles and sliders, with a $20 minimum purchase, but customers must have a reseller number to buy wholesale. The minimum order for in-stock pieces is 12 pieces, per style, size and color. The Button Accessory Collection offers custom orders, but the turnaround time is from four to eight weeks.