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.

The Stronghold

The Stronghold

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.

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.

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.

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.