NFT Los Angeles Shopping


Los Angeles / Shopping

It's been said there are four seasons in Los Angeles: spring, summer, fall, and awards season. With an intimidating index of outdoor malls and boutique-rich neighborhoods, Angelenos take full advantage of their city's balmy shopping weather. Although the fashion vanguard of New York, London, and Milan tend to condescend to LA designers, Los Angeles has long been the birthplace of trends thanks to the influence of film and television. The relationship is symbiotic, with celebrities moonlighting as designers and local stylists and designers achieving star status. People around the world can open a magazine on any given day and see what Paris, Kim, or Miley is wearing as she schleps shopping bags and a triple non-fat macchiato down Robertson Boulevard and understand: They're just like us! Shop on.

Shopping Districts
Los Angeles has wonderful shopping malls, but thankfully they're not a credit card-wielder's only option. In fact, LA has a surprising number of neighborhood shopping drags that feature lively, locally owned businesses, should the whole "United States of Generica" thing get you down.

Downtown: Whether you're looking for flowers, textiles, toys, or jewelry, downtown has a district devoted to whatever your pleasure (i.e., poison) may be. The LA Fashion District (formerly called the "Garment District") is home to more than Santee Alley's knock-off handbags and shoes: it serves as the city's nucleus of showrooms, distributors, designers, and working fashion professionals. You'll also find an overwhelming assortment of fabrics for fashion or home design, flowers, produce, and housewares. This merchandise Mecca is located between 6th Street to the north, the 10 Freeway to the south, Main Street to the west, and San Pedro Street to the east. Good luck finding parking.

East on Sunset Boulevard from Los Feliz to Echo Park, a flotilla of stores has begun to form. The furniture and decor options range from proper antiques through vintage to just plain old junk, but prices are still better than what you'd find in similarly themed venues to the west (how ya doin', La Brea). You'll also find several indie clothing boutiques that allow Eastside hipsters access to their designer duds without the fatal indignity of being seen at Fred Segal.

Los Feliz Village is the square mile (or so) delineated by Los Feliz Boulevard, Hillhurst Avenue, Vermont Avenue, and Hollywood Boulevard. In recent years, a rash of press excitement turned it from "America's hippest neighborhood" into its most-hyped. The din has died down a bit, though new cafés and boutiques still open. There are still enough family-owned restaurants and beloved local landmarks to keep it grounded.

Larchmont Boulevard, between Beverly and 1st Streets, is Hancock Park's friendly, low-key commercial area. A delightful place to shop for books, gifts, wine, and women's clothing, it is made all the more pleasant by the number of restaurants offering sidewalk seating for proper people-watching. Not to be missed, the farmers' market on Sundays always draws a crowd.

Fairfax High School is an appropriate buffer between the two cliques that make up the shopping district known as Melrose Avenue. Stretching from La Brea to Fairfax, the eastern portion of Melrose is a nexus of tourists, tattoo shops, Harley riders, and vintage t-shirt outlets. West of Fairfax and until La Cienega, however, Melrose beckons the rich, the popular, and the unrepentant with the siren call of posh boutiques, including Tarina Tarantino (Map 2) and Fred Segal (Maps 2, 18).

Running parallel to Melrose to the south are two of LA's most established shopping districts: West 3rd Street and Beverly Ave. 3rd Street has attracted fashion-forward boutiques like Milk (Map 2) and EM & Co. (Map 2), which have made a home alongside LA pioneer Trina Turk (Map 2). On Beverly, cool furniture shops accompany the cutting-edge fashion of boutiques like Beige (Map 2). Both streets lead into the city's gargantuan shopping cartel that is the Grove, meaning you can shop the hippest undiscovered designers and still lunch at Johnny Rockets if you want.

Just past the once-popular, now obsolete Beverly Center is the played-out Robertson Boulevard, a shopping area killed by the hubris of one too many Hilton & co. sightings. Home to an American Apparel (Maps 2, 9) and the still-trendy Madison (Map 2), Robertson maintains its status in part due to its paparazzi mainstay, the Ivy restaurant.

No survey of Los Angeles shopping would be complete without at least a mention of the venerable Rodeo Drive. Known perhaps best for its cameo alongside Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, Rodeo is home to the old guard: Giorgio Armani (Map 1), Gucci (Map 1), and Chanel (Map 1) all have boutiques here. You may not be able to buy anything, but you're guaranteed to see at least one celebrity (someone like Larry King), a handful of expensive sports cars, and a constant stream of gaping tourists.

On the West Side, shopping feels like a birthright (or part of the 401K), with areas like Montana Avenue accommodating Santa Monica's upper crust. The blocks between 7th and 17th Streets feature upscale boutiques selling sweaters, chic clothes for men and women, children's apparel and jewelry. If you don't mind the myriad homeless population, throngs of teens on first dates, or the dodgy street performers (and, really, they're not trying to bug you), the 3rd Street Promenade (Map 18) in Santa Monica is a popular outdoor shopping area with pretty much anything you're looking to buy. For an artsy and laid-back shopping day, head to Abbot Kinney in Venice, where fancy furniture stores vie with surf shops and galleries for your attention and your dollar.

Over the hill in Studio City, Tujunga Avenue south of Moorpark keeps it real and local; it's another good spot for shoes, gifts, cards, and lazy weekend meals. Originally made famous by musicians Frank Zappa and Tom Petty, Ventura Boulevard isn't just for Valley Girls anymore. It's quickly become the SFV's answer to its popular West Hollywood and Beverly Hills counterparts with some of the hippest boutiques, cafés, and spas in Los Angeles.

Clothing
Fred Segal (Maps 2, 18) (with stores on Melrose and on Broadway in Santa Monica) is, for many, the arbiter dicta of Los Angeles style. Even those who don't wear their high-end threads have to admit that their cosmetics and apothecary departments are exceptional. The store is actually a collection of boutiques, with the notable Ron Herman (Maps 1, 2, 16) carrying everything from Earnest Sewn jeans to C&C California tanks. Aside from the longstanding hegemony of Fred Segal, LA is home to countless intriguing boutiques and retail outlets.

All of the standard department stores have outposts in Los Angeles, including Saks Fifth Avenue (Map 1), Nordstrom (Map 2), Bloomingdale's (Map 55), Barney's (Map 1), and Neiman Marcus (Map 1), among countless others. Many locals hit up the the Grove at Farmers Market (Map 2) for a mix of department-store looks and shabby-chic trendsre. The neighboring Beverly Center (Map 2) offers shoppers an eight-level behemoth mall with retail favorites like Politix (Map 2) and Ben Sherman (Map 2).

Although not a shopping district in its own right, the Hollywood stretch of La Brea is home to some of LA's most popular stores, including Jet Rag (Map 2), a vintage landmark, and American Rag (Map 2), featuring both vintage and new designer finds. Also on La Brea, Buffalo Exchange (Map 54) lets you buy and sell fashionable cast-offs and trendy accessories. Just remember to stay off La Brea after 4 p.m. They'll tow you, stat.

It can be said that Angelenos are just as preoccupied with their underclothing, and what better way for a girl to show off her Pilates-toned bod and year-round tan (or spray tan) than with sexy offerings from Agent Provocateur (Map 2) on Melrose or Trashy Lingerie (Map 2) on La Cienega. Or replicate the designer look with a Pussycat Dolls getup from the flagship Frederick's of Hollywood (Map 3) on Hollywood Blvd.

Housewares
Face-lifts are not relegated to bodily makeovers in Los Angeles—locals are constantly updating their pricey digs with furnishings from the city's many houseware and furniture shops. And there is no one dominant style in architecture—or interior design—so finding stuff that looks like "you" isn't too difficult a task. Finding it at a reasonable price is another matter entirely.

Those with fat wallets will enjoy their visit to H.D. Buttercup (Map 24) at the Helms Bakery. It's got tens of thousands of square feet filled with beautiful furniture and other elegant household items, from the spatial geniuses who brought you ABC Carpet in New York. Berbere Imports (Map 10), also in the neighborhood, is a one-stop shop for teak furniture, Moroccan lamps, stone Buddhas, and terra cotta urns. On La Brea between Melrose and Wilshire are funky yet elegant furniture shops.

The folks at Liz's Antique Hardware (Map 2) can locate or recreate any doorknob or hinge you show them. Koontz Hardware (Map 2) in West Hollywood has everything from dishtowels to chainsaws packed into its Santa Monica Boulevard store. Rehab Vintage (Map 2) on Beverly is the go-to shop for lovers of steel furniture and clean lines. Yuppie professionals pass lazy Sundays shopping for furniture and housewares at Crate & Barrel (Map 2) at the Grove. Meanwhile, over the hill, Studio City's Bedfellows (Map 56) offers swanky furnishings for the boudoir.

The western stretch of Melrose is home to pure houseware porn; with designer bathtubs and tiles cozying up next to lush carpets, you'll need a second mortgage to finance your new lifestyle. The Pacific Design Center (Map 2) houses the crème de la crème of home furnishings, featuring top designers and avant-garde flourishes.

Music
The enormous Amoeba Music (Map 3) on Sunset and Cahuenga has two floors of every type of music, DVD, and band-related geegaw you can imagine. Don't be intimidated by the long line—Amoeba is a well-oiled machine, with 20+ clerks and seasoned locals who know the drill. Counterpoint Records and Books (Map 3) is a local indie favorite. Canterbury Record Shop (Map 34) in Pasadena and Silver Lake's Rockaway Records (Map 5) also offer inspired rummaging along the new-used continuum.

Food
Surfas (Map 24) in West LA has an impressive wholesale stock of imported gourmet food and restaurant supplies that is open to the public (but let's just keep that between us, capiche?). Wildly popular and tasty is the French-style take-home deli and catering at Joan's on Third (Map 2).

The final proof of a neighborhood's gentrification comes in the form of a gourmet cheese store. Thus, the Cheese Store of Silver Lake (Map 4) joins Say Cheese (Map 5), Bristol Farms (Maps 2, 20), and the Cheese Store of Beverly Hills (Map 1) in carrying everything from Abbaye to Humboldt Fog along with wine, gourmet foods, and other ways of impressing your to-good-for-you date. For those exalted occasions when Two Buck Chuck simply will not do, Silver Lake Wine (Map 5) and Larchmont Village Wine & Cheese (Map 7) are invaluable resources for good grape. The Oaks Gourmet (Map 3) on Bronson is two-fold as a source for great meats, wines, and cheeses alongside an amazing sit-down restaurant that's been there for years.

Home to the aforemocked Two Buck Chuck, Trader Joe's is a Southern California institution with numerous locations wherein each and every item on the shelf is handpicked, sampled, and sold at a no-kidding reasonable price. The Hollywood/Ivar Farmers Market (Map 3) is a Sunday tradition, where locals stock up on organic veggies and fresh hummus while enjoying live music from Rastafarians and other performers. Last, but certainly not least (if we said it was least, it would beat us up), is downtown's Grand Central Market (Map 9), located on Broadway near 4th Street, which has been bustling with a diverse crowd ever since it opened in 1917.

Flea Markets & Sample Sales
Call it a flea market and you're likely to give away your East Coast roots. True Southern Californians refer to this Sunday afternoon activity by its regional name: swap meet. Call it what you will; there is no shortage of options to keep everyone from eBay dweebs to vintage-furniture hounds happy. Perhaps the biggest and best known local swap meet, Pasadena's Rose Bowl Flea Market (Map 34) isn't for amateurs. Every second Sunday of the month (rain or shine), the flea market opens at 5 a.m. for large crowds eager to stock up on antiques, vintage clothes, and plenty of beef jerky. If you want to start smaller, Fairfax High School hosts the Melrose Trading Post (Map 2) every Sunday at the corner of Fairfax and Melrose. For just a $2 entrance fee, it's less pressure than the Rose Bowl, and you're more likely to find locals hocking new designer duds they can't fit in their closet anymore, or their burgeoning jewelry or t-shirt lines. And you can hit up Jet Rag (Map 2) on your way home—the vintage store holds a $1 parking-lot sale every Sunday, for those about to get down on the cement and dig for bargains. The Venice Beach Boardwalk (Map 21) is a standard tourist trap, complete with street performers, beggars, ripoff souvenir shops and ribald t-shirts, but you've got to see it at least once.

Sample sales may seem a tad intimidating for the non-fashion-industry population, but can be well worth the time if you keep your ear to the ground and your cash at the ready. Some sample sales live up to the name and only offer sample sizes (usually a teeny size 2 or 4 and a size 6 shoe), but this isn't always the case. Some of the most popular local organizers are Sassy City Chicks (www.sassycitychicks.com), Fashion Co-Op (www.fashioncoop.com), and Billion Dollar Babes (www.bdbshop.com), each hosting a number of events locally. Consult their websites for more information about dates, times, and tickets

As home to many designer showrooms, factories, and distributors, downtown Los Angeles is an excellent source for impromptu sample sales and designer co-ops. Check the California Market Center (Map 9) (www.californiamarketcenter.com) where some showrooms sell to the general public on the last Friday of the month.

FYI: Some sample sales have dressing rooms and accept credit cards, and some do not—so if you really want those half-price Chip & Pepper jeans, leave your modesty at home and pack the cashola.



On Our Radar:

Posted By:  Beth Deitchman
Photo:  Beth Deitchman

Kitson
Robertson Blvd. is home to many shops that target the chosen few, and a few chains that target the many, but truly only Kitson carries something for everyone. High end Marc Jacobs tote? They've got it. Lower priced coin purse decorated with celebrity mug shots? They've got that, too. The Kitson buyers have a wonderfully irreverent sense of humor, but like all good satirists, they make sure they know their source material before they start having fun with it. This is Kitson's strength: they're a cheat sheet for what's trending now -- or what will be trending three months from now. They don't carry entire designer collections, but they hone in on the breakout pieces you'll see at the mall in six months. Their gifts and books tend to work on multiple levels: Sure, the retro Pop Phone handset looks like a novelty as you plug it into your iPhone 4, but then you learn that the handset's design actually eliminates 99% of the radiation emitted by your cell phone. Fabulous, fun and functional! Just like Kitson.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

The 12 Step Store
Cold beer pours into a frosty pint glass. A sweaty group of dancing friends hoist their bottles, enjoying their big night out, the day's care forgotten. America's commercial environment is no friend of the recovering alcoholic. As someone who's actively dialed back his boozing over time, I know that, when you're pushing through a bad day without the stuff, the carefree promotional initiatives for cocktail culture can turn menacing. WeHo's 12-Step Store serves two purposes: It raises scratch for local recovery programs and it shifts the cultural balance a tad, rendering the AA lifestyle (often perceived, rightly or wrongly, as cultish, humorless and doctrinaire) into a brightly colored world of clever slogans, wacky baubles, Bill Wilson bobbleheads, and enjoyably cheesy fun. Even if you've never hailed the wagon, it's worth a pop-in for its one-of-a-kindness alone.



Posted By:  Alisha Miranda
Photo:  Alisha Miranda

Ananda
I've found my dream store. The perfect travel inspiration. And the perfect street to live on. This is Ananda on Abbot Kinney in Venice Beach, about an hour from LA. The ultimate shopping experience for hippies, eclectic artists, and decorating fanatics, Ananda boasts a unique collection of boutique furnishings and fashions that will leave your wallet empty. No spot is left untouched as shoppers sift through just about every inch of the store in search of the perfect purchase. Be prepared to fall in love.



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Last Bookstore
So, no one in Los Angeles reads, eh? That hardly explains the many cool bookstores here, among which Downtown's Last Bookstore is one of the coolest. Downtown is the only part of LA that has the "look and feel," as the ad wizards say, of its East Coast cousins, with dozens of shops, diners, curiosities, museums, etc. within quick walking distance. Which makes Last Bookstore a perfect place to kill time when your friends are fashionably late for coffee or pizza. It's friendly and casual to a hippie-ish degree, and no one will look at you askance if you sit down and read for an hour. The selection is rich and unpredictable--do what I do and grab a dozen books, pick paragraphs at random, and try to make sense out of it. Along with running the shop, these people raise funds for various charities, including Friends of the Library, and help them sell their own used books online. And... AND they'll actually BUY YOUR USED BOOKS for money! (In some cases; they prefer non-fiction, particularly how-to, over your ex's novel.)



Posted By:  Emerson Dameron
Photo:  Emerson Dameron

Tinder Box
In my hazy-at-best years immediately after college, I held many jobs. I most fondly recall working at a tobacco shop specializing in gourmet cigars, because all I really remember is sitting around bullshitting with pensioners, off-duty cops, delinquent city workers, and the rest of our regulars, watching The Sopranos dozens of times over. These places continue to exist for one reason: They're the only public places left in California where one can legally light up. Take a guy who's been puffing cigars for four decades, tell him he can't do it and talk to strangers at the same time, and he'll find some sort of loophole. If you're not a smoker, the smell of this abrasively unique, admirably enduring shop might make you cough. (When I worked in one of these, I was a cigarette smoker. Now, this place makes me cough, and makes my jacket smell weird.) But, if you’ve any interest in cigars, pipes (as tobacco falls out of favor, marijuana seems to be ascending, and I've seen our demographics) and semi-related bric-a-brac, stop in. For the repartee. For sheer entertainment, the wit and causal abuse of the staff and regulars rivals any improv team I've seen in LA.

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American Apparel
American Apparel
American Apparel
American Apparel Factory Store
Amoeba Music
Anthropologie
Any Occasion Balloons
Artisan Cheese Gallery
Ashley's Deli
Attire
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Denim Doctors & Hollywood Trading Company
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Helen's Cycles
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