The fashion industry in Los Angeles is “largely unappreciated” as a driving force for the city’s economy, according to a new report - despite local companies earning revenues of more than US$18bn through the sector.

The report, “Los Angeles Area Fashion Industry Profile and 2014 Outlook”, was commissioned by financial services business the CIT Group and the California Fashion Association.

It suggests that local companies earn revenues of more than US$18bn through fashion, of which about one-third flows through to local workers.

“Los Angeles represents the intersection of innovative design, fashion leadership, commercial transport and production that meet global needs,” said Jon Lucas, president of CIT Commercial Services.

“As Los Angeles’ profile in fashion keeps rising, local entrepreneurs and businesses will continue to need financing solutions to get their ideas and projects on to the global market.”

The success of the industry, the report suggests, is driven by design talent, favourable cost economics, the appeal of LA fashion and speed to market.

But, despite having the advantages of access to seaports and airports, the lack of major fashion shows in the area limits public awareness of the strength of the industry.

Furthermore, the report says, LA fashion trends tend to focus on activewear rather than the high fashion design associated with runway shows.

It concludes that the area needs to do more to develop its employment base and the public awareness needed to solidify the city’s position as a fashion capital, with aggressive marketing of the “LA” and “California” brands in fashion apparel.