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.

Fred Segal

Fred Segal

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

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

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.

H Lorenzo

H Lorenzo

8700 W. Sunset Blvd. LA

H Lorenzo feels feels huge inside, maybe because of the lack of ceiling panels, but probably more due to the amount of easily accessible racks ow wearable art.

It is hard to tell if the clothing is for sale or on display. Like an art gallery. Browsing the racks feels like being in the vault of the Broad. I love the Broad.

There is a slight hint of macabre, the sort that leans toward Bram Stoker or Trent Reznor not Tim Burton.

Mohawk Menswear

Mohawk General Store

4017 W. Sunset Blvd. LA

Mohawk General Store is two shops, one for women and another for men. If you want furniture and home decor, there is yet another shop for that. They are all curated, nothing big box there.

They are designer and they are not cheap, but if you want to wear something cool with no fear of bumping into someone wearing the exact thing, Mohawk is great for that.

Unless your friends are famous. But even then, they will have on the same brand, but not the same thing so its cool.

Freenote Cloth: it is denim. the cloth is denim.

Freenote Cloth

5509 N. Figueroa St. LA

You might see the hat and the denim and think this is cowboy stuff, but it is not, nor is it trying to be. It is however, rugged and western.

There is leather, denim, flannel, even some gingham. There are boots and hats, but it is still not cowboy. Think Joshua tree and motorcycles not herding cows and the clothes make sense.

Motorcycle not biker gang. LA, not New York.

Buck Mason: simple is good

Locations across the nation but in LA:

10250 Santa Monica BLVD, Los Angeles

Okay, so Buck Mason isn’t boutique, couture or, locally owned, but it is still something. A lot of its something is what it is not.

It is not big box. It is not inexpensive. It is also not flashy, bright, extravagant, over the top, or childish. It is simple, clean, relaxed without being unkempt. I like it. I would 100% wear almost everything in there. I say “almost” only because there is a lot of size smedium in there and I am definitely not that.

Album Surf

In my (limited) experience, surf shops trend toward either a shopping mall version of an imagined White California, or a museum centered on a 1950’s shaper sprinkled with global brand clothing items (Quiksilver, Billabong, whatever). Not Album. Album is a functional art gallery.

1709 N. El Camino Real, San Clemente, CA

I’m not good enough to ride any of their art nor am I smart enough to understand the science of how they work, but I know what looks good. Those boards look great.

They have somehow found that sweet spot between a late 80’s T&C Thrilla Gorilla and a prop branded by Prada that no serious surfer would ever be seen on. I don’t know enough real surfers to speak to what “they” think of Album but I do not care.

Its like how I don’t need to know real artists to like Van Gogh or know real musicians to like D’Angelo. I like Album.

Union: kids these days

Union LA

110 South La Brea Ave. Los Angeles

It started as a bunch of counterculture kids in NYC, then they expanded to LA, where Chris Gibbs continues to move forward today.

The racks feature design centered casual and streetwear. They are all unique and all wearable.

Price points are what you would expect of direct from the designer items but if you have the money this place beats every big box out there.