Harbour Surf

Harbour Surfshop

329 Main St. Seal Beach, CA

Harbour makes the claim that their Seal Beach shop is the world’s oldest continually operating board manufacturing location.

Rich Harbour, the name behind the brand, started shaping boards back in 1959 so no matter the validity of their historical claim, they play a major role in California surf history.

Today the shop has artifacts scattered around the walls, on shelves, and hanging from the ceiling. It also has new boards on the racks, being shaped in the back, and available online. The place is not a museum but a functioning shop.

It is crowded with tourists and surfers, the two not being mutually exclusive, parking is tight, but you should visit.

Mollusk Surf Shop: Venice Beach

Mollusk Venice

1600 Pacific Ave

There are three Mollusk shops, Venice, santa Barbara, and the original in San Francisco.

They are all pretty much the same look, same stock, and same vibe, but without feeling contrived or templated.

At least not compared to the big chains or the more corporate shops with posters of sponsored riders on the walls.

This place has a weird octagonal clubhouse high up on one wall and the other wall is painted with some sort of stylized lion that is drawn to look crude but not exactly childish.

The pallet is all light wood, tan, and muted tones- which did make me wonder a little bit if this place was made for surfers or the sort of suburban instagram mom who wears tall leather boots a chunky poncho and broad brimmed hat while out grabbing a Starbucks.

I would say that woman would fit in here visually, but I don’t care because those Danny Hess surfboards are works of art.

Sid Mashburn

Sid Mashburn

1198 Howell Mill Rd. NW, Atlanta

Sid Mashburn the brand started as Sid Mashburn the shop, in Atlanta.

While that may be true of the brand name as a business, perhaps it helps one understand the sort of look Sid Mashburn creates if the CV of Sid Mashburn the man is explained.

Mashburn has been a designer for J. Crew, then a designer for Polo, then Tommy Hilfiger, and then on to Land’s End. He has been at, which I would say then makes him, the “who’s who” of preppy or trad menswear.

My experience in person is that those who work the shop in Atlanta are welcoming and inviting to both visitors and customers. I was just a visitor but would love to be the other.

Ralph Lauren, Chicago

Ralph Lauren

750 Michigan Ave, Chicago

The Michigan Avenue Ralph Lauren location is not in a mall, or a historical mansion, it was built to exactly what it is; a Ralph Lauren wonderland.

Ralph and his portfolio of brands has always been a movie set version of American style and this venue takes a bit of this imaginary world and makes it tangible.

Every inch, and there are millions of inches, is packed with well curated images and items that form the world in which these clothes were intended to be worn.

American Rag Cie

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.

Seriously 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.

Hobie Surf Shop

Hobie

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.

Yony

Yony

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.

Trading Post by Dr. Collectors

Trading Post

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

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.