Last month I took a vacation to Los Angeles, California (aka: the City of Angeles). It was my first time visiting the city and I made sure to make the most of my stay; taking in the sights, breathing in the ocean air, sampling the delicious fare and, of course, shopping ‘til my feet hurt and they really hurt.
Friends Tim Chan (The Spectacled and Corduroy Magazine) and Lisa Ng (This Beautiful Day) were a big help during my stay. Lisa also has a great Los Angeles travel guide posted on her blog which I referred to often as I built my itinerary. Her post also gave me the idea of creating a shopping guide of my favourite stores in and around LA.
Venice has a ton of great boutiques scattered throughout, but Abbot Kinney Boulevard is THE place to get your shop on. GQ Magazine dubbed it the “coolest block in America” and it’s easy to see why with its boutique shops and great restaurants, plus the famous Venice Beach is nearby.
- ecookie, 1639 Abbot Kinney Blvd – A trendy and eclectic boutique offering women’s clothing, handbags and accessories at affordable prices. I picked up a delicate gold bangle here by Machete Designs for $36.
- Firefly, 1409 Abbot Kinney Blvd – think of FireFly as a mini Anthropologie that carries clothing by LINE Knitwear and Free People, stationary, jewellery, home décor and novelty items.
- Heist, 1100 Abbot Kinney Blvd – I walked into Heist and nearly blew my vacation budget by just staring at clothes and shoes by brands such as Isabel Marant, MM6 and Thakoon. Needless to say I loved this store.
- Margaret O’Leary, 1410 Abbot Kinney Blvd – this store carries beautiful lux knitwear by San Francisco based designer Margaret O’Leary.
- TOMS, 1344 Abbot Kinney Blvd – TOMS’ flagship store not only sells shoes, it’s also a coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, eye glass boutique and also serves as an unofficial community centre. I spent a lot of time in the store and love its laid back feel, plus they have an outdoor back patio which is pretty cool.
- Will Leather Goods, 1360 Abbot Kinney Blvd – if you love leather like I do, and I really love my leather then, Will Leather Goods is a must-stop shop. The store has a rugged yet sophisticated Western feel to it, the staff is friendly and the space is chock-full of goods from handbags to belts, décor and more.
- Wakaru, 1225 Abbot Kinney Blvd – pronounced ‘wa-ka-ru’ which means ‘to understand’ or ‘to see’ in Japanese, this boutique carries limited edition clothing from names like Converse, in addition shoes and accessories by hard to find Japanese brands.
Santa Monica’s Downtown core is host to a myriad of stores. Here is a few of note:
- Betsy & Tracy, 2665 Main Street – a quaint women’s wear store that carries accessories, clothes and shoes by Frye, My Tribe, Report and more.
- Blue Sparrow, 2808 Main Street – vintage mixed with contemporary and affordable wares makes for an incredibly charming clothing and accessory shop in Blue Sparrow.
- Fred Segal, 420 & 500 Broadway – located a few walkable blocks from Third Street Promenade (see below) is upscale Fred Segal, a white nondescript one level building. Inside is a store within a store concept where you can shop for a variety of things like men’s and women’s clothes, beauty, décor and accessories. I wasn’t overly impressed with the store or its offerings, but Fred Segal has been around for a long time and it’s somewhat of a fashion institution in the area.
- Third Street Promenade – you can’t go wrong with shopping in this outdoor mall, it has tons of restaurants, movie theatres and all the big name stores you can think of – J.Crew, Sephora, Steve Madden and more. What I liked most about this place is that parking is free for the first 90 minutes – you can’t get that in Toronto!
- Santa Monica Place – a hop, skip and jump away from Third Street Promenade is Santa Monica Place, another outdoor mall which houses upscale brands like Kate Spade New York, and department stores such as Bloomingdale’s and Nordstrom; think upscale shopping here.
BEVERLY HILLS / DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES / HOLLYWOOD
- The Grove, 189 The Grove Drive – Californians have a thing for outdoor malls because they’re everywhere, must be the great weather they have 24/7. The Grove is another one of those malls that houses many of the same big name retailers as Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Place; Michael Kors and Apple are here, so is Barneys New York and Madewell. However, The Grove excels at creating a stylish atmosphere with its art deco buildings, trolley system and dancing water fountain. If you’re there during the holidays (like I was) you’ll be treated to a 100 foot tall Christmas tree and lit palm trees lining the walkways, it makes for a very picturesque setting and great shopping experience.
- Kitson, 115 S. Robertson Blvd – Kitson has several stores throughout California but the one on Robertson is the original shop and a favourite for celebrities and fashion lovers with its eclectic and edgy fare of apparel, beauty, books, home and tech.
- Modern Museum of Contemporary Art Gift Shop, 250 South Grand Ave – there are several MOCAs locations in LA, but the one visited was the Grand Ave location. I love visiting museum gift shops and the one here carries apparel, books, stationary, prints and posters to complement the artists and works housed in the museum.
- Muji, 7021 Hollywood Blvd – If you’re not familiar with Muji think of it as the Ikea of Japan at similar price points carrying housewares, stationary, apparel, bath and beauty items but with a design focus on minimalism. I attended Muji’s Hollywood store opening, its US flagship location, and was treated to 8,600 square feet of shopping goodness. It’s very easy to spend a few hours in here pouring over its offerings of simple yet affordable products and, of course, I didn’t escape the store without picking up a few items for moi.
- Rodeo Drive – the name ‘Rodeo Drive’ speaks for itself and doesn’t require much explanation; here, you’ll find high-end retailers like Agent Provocateur and Harry Winston. And though you may not be able to afford all the pricey items found in the shops along the famous street you can definitely take in the glamorous experience and pretend to be Julia Roberts in the movie Pretty Woman. While you’re here, do me a favour and stop in Barneys, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue on Wilshire Blvd which is nearby. I wasn’t able to step foot inside these department stores due to time, but they’re absolutely massive and I have no doubt you’ll be able to score a few heart-stopping finds.