Downtown L.A. | January 07, 2023
Downtown L.A. Fashion Bible
Famous for its Fashion District—a neighborhood where the world of garment makers have gathered since the 70s—Downtown LA and the Arts District are today home to a myriad of emerging, vintage, and avant-garde fashion destinations…all the ingredients for assembling a one-of-a-kind wardrobe.
A stone’s throw from DTLA Proper, Acne Studios opened its first store in 2013 in the spectacular Eastern Columbia Building, a 30-story Art Deco tower covered from top to bottom in turquoise tiles. On the other side of the sidewalk, welcome to the world of Paul Smith (844 South Broadway) and the fantastic scenographies of Korean sunglasses brand Gentle Monster (816 South Broadway). A few doors down, Urban Outfitters’ flagship store (810 South Broadway) occupies the former Rialto Theater — housed in an established LA Historic Cultural Monument.
Three blocks to the north, Blends (725 South Los Angeles Street) offers the perfect curation of sneakers and streetwear. And along Pershing Square, Please Do Not Enter (617 South Olive Street), the by-appointment-only concept store of Nicolas Libert and Emmanuel Renoird, provides an incredible window into Old Hollywood from its headquarters in the incredible Oviatt Building, an iconic Art Deco skyscraper. Step inside the white-and-candy-pink store to discover collections by designers including Wooyoungmi, Walter Van Beirendonck, and more.
In the heart of the Fashion District, the labyrinth-like Sante Alley brings together more than 150 merchants specializing in feel-good finds like T-shirts, caps, children’s toys, dresses, and perfumes. On the way out, stop by Virgo (216 East 9th Street), the store founded by fashion lover Rana, whose selection brings together vintage Levi’s, music T-shirts, upcycled vintage, and local brands.
On the former terminus for the Southern Pacific Railroad, next to a bustling produce market opened in 1914, discover the shopping and food destination Row DTLA (Alameda and Center Street), home to a range of shops, restaurants, cafes, and pop-up event spaces.
Of the Row’s offerings be sure to stop into Bodega, a ‘speakeasy’ concept store where a mysterious warehouse entrance opens up to reveal treasures including two levels dedicated to sneakers, a replica of a New York deli, and styles from contemporary brands such as Pleats Please, Engineered Garments, Kapital, and Stüssy. Next door, at Moon and Monique Moronta’s boutique APT.4B, find a “a 90’s era New York City hustler’s apartment” detailed with posters of rap singers and vintage furniture alongside their own T-shirt collections and collaborations with brands like Vans and Adidas.
For vintage finds, visit General Store, which specializes in 80s and 90s clothing, and Arcade, opened by A Current Affair vintage fashion market founder Richard Wainwright—who now hosts the monthly Pickwick Vintage market each month at the Row, offering an elevated mix of vintage from a range of vendors—particularly women’s fashion, jewelry, and accessories.
In the nearby Arts District, former factory spaces and warehouses have taken on new lives as loft apartments, art galleries, and artists’ studios, and exploring the neighborhood’s fashion sensibility begins at Gladys Tamez‘s boutique-workshop (2347 East 8th Street), where the cult favorite hatmaker has made bespoke pieces for celebrities including Lady Gaga, Beyoncé, and Johnny Depp. Turn onto Santa Fe Avenue for an obligatory stop at the ever-popular Maru Coffee (1019 South Santa Fe Avenue), then make a left to discover the world of Departamento, Andrew Dryden’s ‘fashion gallery’ and a favorite store for designers and fashion stylists from all over the world. Here, find top brands such as Marni, Lemaire, or Loewe alongside emerging labels like Namacheko, Bode, Garments, and Ernest W. Baker.
Continuing north, stop into the workshop of George Esquivel, where the shoe designer makes boots, hand-patinated Oxford shoes, leather slippers, and retro sneakers. A few blocks up, don’t miss Dover Street Market (608 Imperial Street), the temple of fashion founded by Comme des Garçons’ Rei Kawakubo and home to designers including Maison Margiela, Marine Serre, Undercover, and emerging designers in a labyrinth-like, always evolving setting.
Hauser & Wirth Neighborhood
The junction between East 3rd Street, Hewitt Street, and Traction Avenue—today surrounding Hauser & Wirth gallery—marks the original stomping grounds of 80s punk and rock culture in LA. This moment of cultural history is best revisited at Best Regards (305 South Hewitt Street), whose store is based in what used to be Al’s Bar, a music venue where Nirvana and David Bowie once played. Nearby, find shops from apothecaries Le Labo and Aesop, as well as indie streetwear brand Neoity (702 Traction Avenue), which adds a unique colorful and graphic touch.