RECOMMENDED: The best shops in Los Angeles
Shopping at the Apolis Common Gallery is like stepping into an epic ’round-the-world travelogue, where every globally-sourced item has a story behind it. Leather sandals were crafted by a four-person co-op in Tel Aviv; jute market bags were assembled by a collective of mothers in Bangladesh; a women’s co-op in Nepal hand knit the ’50s-style sweaters made in collaboration with cycling brand Rapha. Brothers Raan and Shea Parton launched Apolis the brand in 2004, employing and empowering artisans worldwide (and right here in Cali) to create their heritage-inspired pieces—this flagship shop serves as a showcase for the full product range, as well as an event space and gallery.
The lone SoCal outpost of this NorCal-based chainlet, Unionmade has garnered a cult following by offering functional, yet beautifully made classics with an urban outdoorsman air. While the shop carries plenty of clothing and outerwear by the likes of Gitman Vintage, Woolrich Woolen Mills and Billy Reid, we’re just as enamored with their supremely edited range of accessories—think loafers, oxfords and boots by heritage shoemaker Alden, smart twill-and-leather bags by Filson, and hearty British-made leather belts by Tender. If you suffer from sticker shock, rest assured that these are pieces that will still look cool a decade from now.
Self Edge is a mecca for denim heads, carrying jeans that can be aptly described as wearable works of art. Denim is almost strictly ultra-premium Japanese selvedge, with cult-y brands like Imperial, Iron Heart and Strike Gold filling the racks. These are supplemented by a host of equally covetable tops and accessories, like ’50s-inspired flannels by Flat Head, indigo-dyed tees by Heirloom and silver jewelry cast by Native American artisans. Though prices are steep—denim hovers at around $400 per pair—an affordable in-house tailoring and repair service ensures that you’ll pretty much be able to wear anything you buy here for the rest of your life.
If you’re going to spend $200 on a pair of jeans, you might as well go for bespoke. This friendly new custom atelier in downtown LA makes the whole process easier than ever. Simply choose one of three styles—skinny, slim tapered or straight leg—pick from a range of Japanese and American denims, get your measurements taken by an experienced tailor and select your desired button, zipper, thread and pocket lining. A few weeks later, your personalized pair will be in the mail, with anything you desire inscribed on the label, from song lyrics to your own name. They also make ladies’ jeans—girlfriend gift alert!
For the perfect flat front chino, plaid button-down, crew-neck tee or military jacket, look no further than Unis, a New York brand that made its way out west in late 2011. Designer Eunice Lee has a knack for crafting those basic wardrobe staples that you’ll likely wear every day. Her aesthetic is as understated as it gets—no crazy prints or blindingly bright colors here—with a focus on fabric and fit. The store also carries other brands with a similarly unpretentious ethos, such as Common Projects shoes and caps by Fair Ends.
With General Quarters, shop owner Blair Lucio has achieved the near-impossible—creating a retail space that guys actually want to hang out in. The store has a vibe that’s a little bit vintage military, a little bit On the Road, and is filled with clothing and accessories that the down-to-earth Lucio describes as “Southern California heritage”—laid-back preppy garb by Gant Rugger, denim by LA’s own Rogue Territory, and graphic tees designed by Lucio himself. A ’50s-style barbershop has also recently been installed in the boutique, with a focus on haircuts and beard trims using product by Baxter of California.
Chances are, you’ve heard a lady or two rhapsodizing about her Kate Spade purse at some point. As evidenced by the name, this shop trades in the men’s version of those stylish, yet functional bags. Along with just about every iteration of canvas and leather briefcase or tote one could imagine, this low-key bungalow boutique also houses dozens of shirts, sport coats, chinos and sweaters—in short, anything you’d need to sartorially prepare for a big meeting at the office. And if you need to blow off steam before the big event, the shop also boasts a ping pong table in the front yard—how very Venice.
Before you head to the mall, pause for a minute and consider stopping by Alternative Apparel’s rustically cool Craftsman bungalow on Abbot Kinney. Just about everything in it is under $100, from super-soft hoodies and tees in dozens of colors and prints to cardigans, chinos, caps, bags and more. Plus, you’ll know that it’s all sustainably made, much of it from organic cotton and eco-friendly dyes. Be sure to sign up for the store’s mailing list to find out about the in-store DIY workshops, art exhibitions and charitable events.
Two of LA’s best men’s footwear retailers—DF Feet and George Esquivel—have joined forces in one West 3rd St space, creating a veritable supershop for all your shoe-buying needs. Downstairs, you’ll find DF Feet, which deals in brands such as Maison Martin Margiela, Tretorn and Volta. Upstairs is bespoke shoemaker George Esquivel’s atelier, where the designer conducts appointments and fittings for his handcrafted shoes and boots. Made for a clientele of rock stars, pro athletes and creative types, Esquivel’s kicks for men and women are cobbled from the world’s best leathers, and are often offset with unexpected colors and design elements.
What was once a flower shop on the corner of Venice Boulevard has been transformed into a temple to all things dudely—namely, surf culture, badass bikes and strong espresso. Bring your buddies to marvel at Deus Ex Machina motorcycles handbuilt in-house, surfboards shaped at the Deus shop in Bali, and floor-to-ceiling art celebrating both of these noble pursuits. For those who can’t fit a custom bike into their carry-on, grab a double shot from LA’s Handsome Coffee Roasters (they brew in the shop) and instead shop the selection of Raen Optics shades, Baxter boots, Tsovet watches or the Deus clothing line, which spans tees, sweats, board shorts and more.