Finding the best clothing stores in any city can be daunting—and especially so in Los Angeles, a place where trendy stores are as ubiquitous as corner coffee shops. So we've done the research for you—along with a whole lot of window shopping—to come up with the top ten shops worth dropping a wallet's worth. Whether you're on the hunt for a date night outfit, wardrobe staple or gift (lucky giftee!), these spots carry the city's finest threads.
L.A.'s best clothing stores
Culling their wares from around the globe, husband and wife co-owners, Kevin and Bo Carney, are at the helm of this cult-favorite shop's second location. Expertly curated, the light-filled and effortlessly chic Silver Lake flagship features a mix of internationally renowned designers (such as Isabel Marant and Comme des Garcons), locally grown labels (like Black Crane and Building Block) and the stores’ in-house, all cotton clothing line, Smock. In addition to ladies and mens clothes and shoes, there is an array of thoughtfully chosen accessories—including an impressive collection of jewelry by best selling designer Kathleen Whitaker and sunglasses by The Row. Though mostly a destination for the modern lady, Rodin skin products, Cire Trudon candles and Mariage Frere Vert Marco Polo tea are a few of the items with unisex appeal. Not to be left out is the handful of design books and architecturally astute imported furniture, also for sale throughout the shop.
This shop attracted so much love from L.A. ladies after opening in 2005 that owner Jade Lai decided to launch a second outpost in New York. But we’re still partial to the original location, a rare refuge of peace off Melrose Avenue. Inside, you’ll find unobtrusively cool brands from both near (Clare Vivier handbags, All For the Mountain jewelry) and far (loads of Isabel Marant and Rachel Comey). Our favorite pieces in the store, however, have to be from CoC’s in-house clothing line, filled with the kind of perfect basics you’ll wear over and over—slouchy tees, cropped trousers and pretty patterned blouses, to name just a few.
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.
American Rag is our go-to denim destination for its vast selection alone. Even if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for—Colorful and printed? Raw Japanese selvedge? Distressed vintage wash?—you’re bound to find something among the dozens of brands on offer. Just about every big name in premium denim is represented for both guys and gals, and staffers have a knack for helping you sift through the stock to find the perfect fit and style. After you’ve emerged from the store victorious, we recommend beelining for the attached Café Midi for a celebratory cappuccino and some street-side people watching.
Previously, you could only order Buck Mason's covetable basics online; now, spoiled Angelenos shop for high-quality tees, henleys, chinos, demin, sweats and more at the brand's two brick and mortar locations in Silver Lake and Venice. These staple pieces are the stuff perfect wardrobes are built from—and they're not too pricey, for how often you'll wear them. Even the shop itself is effortlessly casual and stylish.
When you’re in the mood to shell out on a piece that you’ll wear for years, we recommend heading to Heist, which has our favorite range of women’s designer brands in all of Venice. Owner Nilou Ghodsi has an eye for modern classics, pulling in a cadre of brands such as Golden Goose riding boots, Henry Cuir distressed leather weekender bags and Raquel Allegra knits. Like the store itself—which is kitted out in brick, leather and wood—everything in Heist is infused with a spirit of understated, comfy chic.
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.
We’ve all been there—you find a vintage dress in the most perfect shade of cerulean silk, but with a ripped seam or set of ’80s puffed sleeves that render it all but unwearable. At Reformation, designer Yael Aflalo takes such diamonds in the rough and makes them shine, cutting vintage garb and surplus fabric into thoroughly modern silhouettes, from cropped blouses to breezy maxidresses and flirty shorts. Everything’s made right in the store, ensuring that the breaking trend you’re coveting today could quite possibly be approximated (and sustainably so) by next week—fast fashion, indeed.
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.
Before you head to the mall, pause for a minute and consider stopping by Alternative'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.