Update: This post was originally published on July 26, 2016.
Los Angeles is a city of many landmarks: the Hollywood sign, LACMA’s Insta-worthy light-post installation, Santa Monica Pier, and of course, the destinations that have to do with shopping. Our city has some seriously influential boutiques, from those with decades of history on legendary boulevards to fresh arrivals lining the blocks of entirely new shopping districts. And although there may still be some folks who don’t consider L.A. to be a global fashion capital — really, now? — these style meccas prove that innovation and crazy-good taste are in our blood.
Of course, amid our sprawling retail landscape, there are serious standouts. Who was the first retailer to bring Giorgio Armani and Comme des Garçons to L.A.? Which shop rewrote the rulebook for eco-friendly fashion? And which haunt has helped launch the careers (and countless
Vogue editorials) of some of the best local luxury designers?
Ahead, prepare for a heavy dose of style trivia as we honor what we consider to be the city’s most important and influential boutiques.
Photo: Courtesy of Acne.
Acne DTLA is arguably one of L.A.’s hottest 'hoods right now, but that hasn’t always been the case — especially with regards to shopping. At the tail end of 2013, Swedish brand Acne became the first major designer label to plant its flag Downtown, paving the way for stores such as A.P.C. and Aesop skin care, not to mention a slew of fashion-girl-favored hangs like wellness haven The Springs and a forthcoming Arts District outpost of Soho House. Acne, 855 South Broadway (near West 9th Street); 213-243-0960.
Photo: Courtesy of American Rag.
American Rag This iconic retail destination is quite possibly the only place in L.A. where one can score a vintage scarf, the latest J Brands, a set of French bistro chairs, and a knockout bacon-and-brie omelet at the same time. Pioneering founder Mark Werts has exported his store concept to China, Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand, and he recently brought that global influence back to L.A. with a shop-in-shop spotlighting up-and-coming Chinese designers. American Rag, 150 La Brea Avenue (near West 2nd Street); 323-935-3154.
Photo: Courtesy of Church.
Church When two ex-Maxfield staffers come together to open a shop of their own, you know it’s going to be really good. Founders Rodney Burns and David Malvaney are known for discovering and championing avant-garde goods that you can’t find anywhere else (think '70s Gucci ashtrays and necklaces made from emu feathers and horsehair). The shop is a favorite of celebs — from Rihanna to Steven Tyler — and the stylists who dress them. Church, 7277 Santa Monica Boulevard (at Greenacre Avenue); 323-876-8887.
Photo: Courtesy of Creatures of Comfort.
Creatures Of Comfort Back in 2005, our city was just bidding adieu to the era of Von Dutch hats and Juicy tracksuits. But when Creatures of Comfort arrived on the scene that year, it brought with it a fresh West Coast aesthetic that’s still relevant today: simple, intelligent design with a dash of quirkiness. A decade later, the Melrose store is still going strong. Founder Jade Lai has also launched a coveted clothing line and an NYC shop and project space. Creatures of Comfort, 7971 Melrose Avenue (near North Edinburgh Avenue); 323-655-7855.
Photo: Courtesy of Decades.
Decades When a starlet is in the market for a show-stopping red carpet moment, she heads to this trove of designer vintage, which gets its supply from both museum-level designer auctions and the closets of some of the world’s wealthiest fashion plates. With their impressively deep knowledge of fashion history, co-owners Cameron Silver and Christos Garkinos are celebs in their own right — they were the subjects of a Bravo reality show in 2013 and helm clothing lines for QVC and HSN, respectively. Decades, 8214 Melrose Avenue (near North Harper Avenue); 323-655-1960.
Photo: Courtesy of Curve.
Curve Owner Nevena Borissova was just a bright-eyed 22-year-old when she conceptualized Curve way back in 1997 — one of the first high-end shops to open on Robertson Boulevard — but her story is proof that age ain’t nothing but a number. She now presides over six Curve locations nationwide and has collaborated with design heavyweights such as Thierry Mugler and Viktor & Rolf on exclusive pieces for her customers. Curve, 154 North Robertson Boulevard (near Beverly Boulevard); 310-360-8008.
Photo: Courtesy of Jenni Kayne.
Jenni Kayne What started as a contemporary fashion label embraced by the NYC establishment has morphed into a fully fledged lifestyle brand. Kayne’s trio of shops carries a mix of her own Cali-cool womenswear pieces, accessories from other designers she loves, and home goods fit for a Doheny-dwelling domestic goddess. Follow the tastemaker’s blog, Rip + Tan, for a look inside her enviable lifestyle. Jenni Kayne; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Elyse Walker.
Elyse Walker Thanks to visionary retailer Elyse Walker, Westsiders don’t have to cross the 405 to get their fix of Isabel Marant and Saint Laurent. Her Palisades emporium has taken over an entire block since its 1999 debut, and it regularly hosts trunk shows, designer meet-and-greets, and shoe signings (yes, that’s a thing). Consider it the Malibu dweller’s answer to Barneys. Elyse Walker, 15306 Antioch Street (near Swarthmore Avenue); 310-230-8882.
Photo: Courtesy of Fred Segal.
Fred Segal Think L.A. shopping and Fred Segal is undoubtedly the first store that comes to mind. The celebrated mini-mall has been influencing pop culture for over 50 years, after all. In that time, the brand has grown to include five locations (L.A., Santa Monica, LAX, Las Vegas, and Tokyo); has been name-checked in Clueless, The O.C., Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero, and dozens more books/movies/songs; and has welcomed a restaurant, Mauro’s Café, that still swarms with celebs today. Oh, and did we mention you can also buy clothes there? Fred Segal; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Madison.
Madison A family-owned mini-empire known for its cool contemporary labels — they stocked Rag & Bone, IRO, and other hot brands way before those names opened L.A. flagships — this 26-year-old behemoth now has four locations around the city. But don’t let that imply cookie-cutter styling; each location has a vibe all its own. The L.A. flagship is filled with capital-F fashion, while hubs in Brentwood, Malibu, and Pacific Palisades cater to the most stylish beach-town soccer moms. Madison; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Just One Eye.
Just One Eye Founded in 2013 by onetime Maxfield fashion director Paola Russo, Just One Eye has since established itself as a nexus of L.A.’s fashion, art, and design communities. Remember that pill-covered backpack by Damien Hirst and The Row? It originated here, where you can also snag a $25,000 pair of Converse high-tops painted by artist Nate Lowman and, soon, the first drop of Kanye’s Yeezy Season 1 collection. Just One Eye, 7000 Romaine Street (at North Orange Drive); 888-563-6858.
Photo: Courtesy of Mohawk General Store.
Mohawk General Store There’s no other shop that so perfectly embodies the Silver Lake aesthetic, from its understatedly cool designer mix to its mid-century-modern furniture. Husband-and-wife owners Kevin and Bo Carney have been early supporters of a lot of Eastside designers who have since blown up, including Clare Vivier and Beatrice Valenzuela — and they’re most certainly on track to replicate that success with their own clothing brand, Smock. Mohawk General Store; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Planet Blue.
Planet Blue One of the first cool contemporary women's wear boutiques to open in Malibu 20 years ago, Planet Blue has bloomed into a micro-chain with additional locations in Santa Monica, Beverly Hills, Venice, and Tokyo. This is the place to shop for that boho Coachella-babe look, one that the brand has parlayed into its own clothing and swimwear collection, Blue Life. Planet Blue; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Opening Ceremony.
Opening Ceremony These days, you can’t swing a Mansur Gavriel bucket bag in L.A. without hitting a newly minted NYC transplant. While the same goes for East Coast concept shops (OAK, Assembly), Opening Ceremony has the distinction of being the first (maybe it’s because the shop’s founders, Humberto Leon and Carol Lim, are Cali natives). This is where overseas brands often land before finding permanent L.A. homes — in the past, OC has hosted pop-up shops for Topshop and COS. Opening Ceremony, 451 North La Cienega Boulevard (near Rosewood Avenue); 310-652-1120.
Photo: Courtesy of Jet Rag.
Jet Rag Two words: dollar sale. As every L.A. gal knows, you haven’t truly experienced the city until you’ve woken up at sunrise to dig through piles of $1 vintage items in this secondhand store’s petite parking lot. If that’s not your thing (completely understandable), the store itself also has a pretty great — if not overwhelmingly huge — selection of low-priced dresses, jeans and cutoffs, tees, and more from the past half century. Jet Rag, 825 North La Brea Avenue (near Willoughby Avenue); 323-939-0528.
Photo: Courtesy of L.A. Eyeworks.
L.A. Eyeworks Yes, this shop has some seriously rad limited-edition specs and sunnies, but there’s more to it than phat frames. The 40-year-old institution is known for its tongue-in-cheek yet politically and socially charged window messaging: Ad campaigns have featured everyone from RuPaul and Andy Warhol to Sharon Stone and Pierce Brosnan, and lens cloths have been designed by local art stars including Catherine Opie and Barbara Kruger. L.A. Eyeworks; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Reformation.
Reformation By reworking vintage and dead-stock fabrics and utilizing new green materials, designer Yael Aflalo puts the fashion into eco fashion. The retro-cool brand’s sustainability credentials are no joke — they track all of the carbon dioxide given off and water used in their production process, invest in tree planting and clean-water solutions to offset any damage, and prioritize renewable energy and fair labor practices at their Downtown HQ. Reformation, 8253 Melrose Avenue (near North Harper Avenue); 323-852-0005.
Photo: Courtesy of Ooga Booga.
Ooga Booga The original pioneer of Downtown indie retail, Ooga Booga opened in 2004 with a tight selection of art, books, music, and fashion. It’s since become a publisher in its own right, opening a second location to host performances, workshops, and screenings and going on the road to collaborate with cultural institutions around the U.S. Ooga Booga; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of The Row.
The Row We have to give props to any NYC-based brand that chooses to open its one-and-only boutique in L.A. But that’s not the only reason The Row’s flagship can’t be missed — the shop itself is a perfect homage to SoCal’s mid-century-design legacy, with vintage mod furniture, outdoor space, and lots of light. Another fun fact: The store is housed in the former John Frieda salon, where brand founders Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen had their hair cut as children. The Row, 8440 Melrose Place (near La Cienega Boulevard); 310-853-1900.
Photo: Courtesy of TenOverSix.
TenOverSix L.A.’s coolest kids flock to this gallery-like lifestyle store that carries everything from indie fashion designers to music, books, home objects, beauty products, and art. But, after nine years in the city of angels, the shop's co-founders Kristen Lee and Brady Cunningham have decided to bid farewell to the Los Angeles boutique in order to focus on a new retail location slated to open later this year in Miami. So, make it there while you still can. TenOverSix, 8425 Melrose Avenue (at North Croft Avenue); 323-330-9355.
Photo: Courtesy of Shareen Vintage.
Shareen Vintage What started as a stall at the Fairfax flea market has turned into one of the city’s can’t-miss destinations for affordable, wearable vintage — and a warehouse-sized one at that. In addition to the DTLA outpost, which houses hundreds of day dresses and evening frocks from all different eras, founder Shareen Mitchell now has a location in New York, too, and designs namesake bridal and evening-wear collections (many pieces are crafted from reworked vintage fabrics). The only rule? No boys allowed. Shareen Vintage, 1721 North Spring Street (near Wilhardt Street); 323-276-6226.
Photo: Courtesy of Wasteland.
Wasteland When celebrities want to offload their endless piles of swag, they come here to sell it. At Wasteland’s three L.A. locations, you’ll find racks upon racks of gently worn items (both vintage and contemporary) along with brand-new pieces that mesh with the rock-'n'-roll-inspired merch. There are shops in Santa Monica and Studio City, but we’re partial to the Melrose locale. Wasteland; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of The Way We Wore.
The Way We Wore When fashion’s biggest designers (we won’t name any names) need inspiration for future collections, they head to Doris Raymond’s mid-city vintage den. The shop itself is a veritable museum of vintage clothing from the 1890s to the 1990s, and the store has an adjoining appointment-only library that can only be accessed by fashion-world VIPs. The Way We Wore, 334 La Brea Avenue (near West 3rd Street); 323-937-0878.
Photo: Courtesy of Violet Grey.
Violet Grey So we’re going to warn you in advance: This shop is going to give you some serious interior-design envy. But you’ll soon forget about that once you’ve started browsing its collection of cult beauty products, all of which are selected by top Hollywood makeup artists, nail artists, and hairstylists. Be sure to check out Violet Grey’s online magazine in advance to get a handle on the latest trends. Violet Grey, 8452 Melrose Place (near North La Cienega Boulevard); 323-782-9700.
Photo: Courtesy of Maxfield.
Maxfield Since opening in the early '70s, Tommy Perse’s incomparable concept shop has been responsible for launching labels like Giorgio Armani and Comme des Garçons in L.A. Today, its racks in Malibu and on Melrose are stuffed with Chanel and Dior alongside rock-star-worthy garb, and its brand-building legacy carries on — the Apple Watch made its exclusive L.A. debut here this year. Maxfield; multiple locations.
Photo: Courtesy of Des Kohan.
Des Kohan On the L.A. retail scene, location is everything. So it’s kind of a big deal that trend scout Des Kohan’s shop has survived for 10 years on an otherwise fashion-barren residential street off the Miracle Mile. The boutique’s success is a testament to Kohan’s keen eye, which has curated a mix of local legends (Juan Carlos Obando, Gabriela Artigas, Raquel Allegra) and icons from afar (Alaïa, Hussein Chalayan). Des Kohan, 671 South Cloverdale Avenue (near Wilshire Boulevard); 323-857-0200.
Photo: Courtesy of Ron Robinson.
Ron Robinson Ron Robinson is one of the OG retailers within the Fred Segal complex (since 1978!), so it’s not surprising that he struck out in 2014 with his very own Santa Monica lifestyle emporium. The sleek space’s offerings span home and gift items, beauty, fragrance, apparel, swim, and activewear — an in-house florist and coffee shop are also on tap. Ron Robinson, 1327 5th Street (near Santa Monoica Boulevard); 310-458-1160.
Photo: Courtesy of Satine.
Satine Owner Jeannie Lee is a self-proclaimed “pioneer of the ‘high-low’ retail concept,” who is said to be one of the first to blend established designers (Alexander Wang, Phillip Lim) with under-the-radar talent (MSGM, Cult Gaia) in one space. A favorite of celebs and style bloggers, the 12-year-old Satine now has three locations in L.A. and one in Tokyo — but we’ll always be partial to the dollhouse-like West 3rd Street flagship. Satine, 8134 West 3rd Street (near South Crescent Heights Boulevard); 323-655-2142.
Photo: Courtesy of Rachel Comey.
Rachel Comey The Brooklyn designer that started our love affair with wide-legged denim has officially moved in to LA, and her new Melrose Place shop is everything Rachel Comey fans will love. Reminiscent of the brand’s minimal aesthetic and earthy tones (which fits in nicely with neighboring shops like The Row and Zero Maria Conejo), the store is a true reflection of the laid-back cool her pieces possess. And while our hearts will always belong to her OG downtown Manhattan location, the super-clean interior design of the LA outpost feels like the perfect calm respite from a busy California day. Rachel Comey, 8432 Melrose Place (near La Cienega Boulevard); 323-852-3152.