608 Imperial St.
I stood in line for 30 minutes to go inside a small retail space full of t shirts and hoodies.
I stood there because my 18 year old daughter, who knows what’s cool these days much better than I ever did, wanted too. I don’t get it, but she does.
In high school, a very long time ago, I had a Stussy T. It was tan with a black fleur de lis in the back.
I bought it at the mall.
American Rag Cie
150 S. La Brea Ave.
American Rag has been called the greatest denim store on Earth. I can’t make that call, but I can say it is cool.
Denim aside, the place has a fantastic mix of all sorts of other things. There are rows and racks of second hand items, new lines of outerwear, pretty much anything that isn’t formal.
Anywhere West Coast that carries Brooklyn Circus, might in fact be the best.
For people like me, who have a budget, or perhaps just appreciate the “one-offs”, there is a second location just down the street that is much more curated thrift store than high end vintage.
And it is still cool.
34174 Pacific Coast Highway, Dana Point
Hobie opened their first surf shop in 1954, claiming to be the first in Southern California.
Hobie Alter had long been making surfboards in his garage, but with this new dedicated location Hobie the man, and the brand, stepped things up.
Hobie played a major role in not just shaping boards, but in the many ways the boards themselves shaped surf culture. Hobie helped pioneer the transition from balsa wood to foam and had a hand in shifting surfing from a local culture to a global image.
Much of how the world views California, is just a reflection of Hobie.
At the Dana Point shop you can watch a board being shaped and stand browse the history hanging from the rafters… then buy a Burton shacket and a pair of Quicksilver shorts.
1625 Abbot Kinney Blvd, LA
The Stronghold has been making jeans in LA for more than 100 years. It is what they do.
But they sell more than that.
In keeping with California’s rugged western, not quite cowboy, theme, The Stronghold also sells Stetsons, leather jackets, and… sweatshirts.
118 S. La Brea Ave. LA
TheYony retail space is minimalist.
White walls and floor allow the articles of clothing on the rack, and maybe a painting or two, to stand out.
It’s a risky play since it is so easy to come of as the final day of a closeout sale and if all you have to focus on is the clothes, they better be good.
The clothes are a riff on classic country club athleisure and a touch of 1950 Americana.
The first time I visited I convinced them to sell me one of the stickball sticks they had in the corner. I was amused that next to a stack of white sweatshirts with crossed tennis racket logos, were the tools of back alley athletics.
And that is what they do there. Country Club attire with back alley sensibility.
126 S. La Brea Ave, LA
I would describe what Dr. Collectors do as a French person’s version of romanticized American Western wear via Japanese design.
I am not qualified to unpack all of that. Those concepts are both problematic and fascinating. Like a well executed television show that is consistently cringy yet you still kinda love it. Like The Office. You just can’t pause to think about it.
No matter my opinions I can solidly say they produce unique items with attention to detail. A lot of it, I must admit, looks super cool, and to be fair, I have had zero contact with the owners or designers and don’t have a true sense of what they are all about. And to continue in fairness, I am no expert on Native American design and the boundaries of certain designs, or items, with their associated meanings, and I know even less about Japan.
But I do know a thing or two about colonialism, appropriation, and how clothing communicates meaning, including, but not limited to, identity.
All of which adds up to me having a lot of questions, no recommendations, and a general hesitance from actual opinion.
Dries Van Noten
451 N. La Cienega Blvd. LA
Dries Van Noten’s LA location is the global brand’s largest and every inch of it is interesting.
The building itself was once Charlie Chaplin’s dance studio but the current contents are neither colorless nor silent.
Past collections are on display creating a museum like quality which flows into art gallery on through to retailer.
When I came to only gawk, not buy, the people there were not just gracious but truly helpful. Like docents with style.
8500 Sunset Blvd. LA
Fred Segal opened in 1961 and claims to have pioneered the shops inside-of-shops that are now the norm for modern department stores.
Some give Segal credit for creating the brand of “cool” that the world imagens when they hear the word “California”.
I don’t know if that is true, or care if it is, but I do know that Cher in Clueless shopped there.
They carry all the brands and items that are on trend, or are the trend, or whatever. It felt a little to me like visiting the inside of a phone as it scrolls through Tik Tok, Snapchat, or whatever app the glossy kids use these days.
Bode Los Angeles
7007 Melrose Ave, LA
Bode is the brand, or designer, that made turning vintage quilts into current clothing, a thing.
They are based in New York, but the newly opened second location in LA stands up on its own just fine.
Sewing old fabric into new shapes alone isn’t that remarkable but the creative attention to detail is.
A visit to Bode is as interesting as a museum or gallery, but you can touch and try things on.
It is tactile and aesthetic.
Snake Oil Provisions
5711 N Figueroa St. LA
The first thing I saw when I walked through the door was a pair of pink jeans. They stood out in an otherwise indigo and brown space while somehow retaining their masculinity.
The space is masculine in a way I appreciated, meaning, this is a shop that caters to the masculine and there was a woman working there who did not appear to be attempting to sell her sexuality.
The walls are covered by Indian Giver prints, the racks are filled with leather and denim, and the woman is there as an expert
not as an object.
I love that.