(originally printed in Travelmag.com)
Located in the heart of Los Angeles, La Brea is home to a carefully-curated design district featuring retail trendsetters in streetwear, home design, and men’s and women’s fashion. The perfect mix of iconic and innovative finds awaits along La Brea Avenue, from Pink’s Hot Dogs to the Hollywood Walk of Fame, La Brea Bakery popovers to the hottest pop-up stores.
Spanish for “the tar” and known for its fossil-filled tar pits, La Brea also has flagship and one-of-a-kind stores bubbling up everywhere, particularly between Melrose and Wilshire Boulevards. One could easily spend a day exploring La Brea Avenue’s impressive offerings. Below is our guide to the unique shopping experiences you don’t want to miss.
Pronounced “ether,” and meaning upper-air, this urban athleisure mecca for weekend warriors features men’s and women’s fashion. A walk-in freezer chilled to nine degrees sits in the middle of the 4,000-square-foot store. Where else can a shopper in Southern California test out a coat for colder climates? The 45 modular wooden crates used for rearranging displays give this industrial space the ability to shape-shift and provide fresh shopping experiences for fans of this modern line.
161 S. La Brea Ave.
Shop Super Street
“High-low” is how founder Lucy Akin describes the Shop Super Street aesthetic. It’s not only a great way to describe the eclectic brand assortment, but it also speaks to the store’s cultured-meets-casual atmosphere and attitude. Female-skewed streetwear and skateboard selections are rare, and Shop Super Street stepped up to fill that void. Palace skateboards are displayed on the walls, and streetwear designers (like Huf) hang alongside luxury labels (like Moschino) and newer LA designers (like socially-conscious Bliss and Mischief). Fashionistas have made Shop Super Street their go-to designer destination, either shopping in person or tapping into their convenient, same-day delivery service.
458 S. La Brea Ave.
American Rag Cie
A master of reinvention, American Rag Cie has been on the cutting edge of fashion and pop culture since it first landed on La Brea in the mid-‘80s. Almost half of American Rag’s 12,000 square feet is dedicated to denim. Shoppers will find an exhaustive selection of jean brands, including RRL, Baldwin, Unbranded and countless others. The shop also carries an assortment of hip designer clothes, shoes and accessories, along with an eclectic collection of DVD’s and gift items. Their fantastic collection of vintage clothing is among L.A.’s best. After spending hours immersed in an unrivalled international fashion experience, shoppers can stroll into the adjoining Maison et Café, American Rag’s French inspired housewares arm. Café Midi, their small café, has sidewalk seating, making it a great place to lunch and people watch.
150 S. La Brea Ave.
More than a store, Sake is an inspired, posthumously-created, collection of streetwear honoring the visionary design work of Jack Phoenix, a.k.a SAKE. A hit and run victim, SAKE was only fifteen when his life was cut short. Still, his body of work was extensive and had already captured the imagination of young skateboarders and urban influentials. The work of local artists and designer friends is also on display on hats, T-shirts, sneakers and other merchandise. This exceptional space includes an area for intimate live performances and has recently featured several up-and-coming hip-hop artists.
114 S. La Brea Ave.
Opened in 2001, this local, pioneering streetwear label has gone global, attracting trend shoppers and influencers from around the world with their sense of LA attitude. Still synonymous with limited release and hard-to-find sneakers, Undefeated now occupies a larger space just across the street from its original La Brea home. Apparel and accessories share the newer space with an extensive footwear selection for men, women and kids. The original La Brea space is often converted into a pop-up store in partnership with brands like Nike. Don’t be surprised if you spot folding chairs set up outside and “sneakerheads” camping out overnight to be first in line for an exclusive shoe release. Perched above the original store is the Undefeated Billboard Project, where chosen local artists are invited to display their work on a highly visible billboard.
111 S. La Brea Ave.
This vintage wonderland proves the saying that everything old is new again. Open since 1976, Golyester is the go-to place for studio shoppers in need of pre-‘70s fashions for projects like Feud, starring Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford and Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis. Browse the museum quality textiles, shoes, jewelry and artifacts to find a few must-have pieces for your own wardrobe. Prices reflect the outstanding condition of this rare vintage selection, but sale items also abound. The knowledgeable staff, who has been known to negotiate, enjoys sharing its passion for the past with customers.
450 S. La Brea Ave.
Gravity X Catalyst
Hidden across from Mood Fabric (of Project Runway fame), Gravity & Catalyst combines two chic brands in one minimalist boutique setting. In addition to their own jewelry and apparel, they bring in handpicked, locally-made goods, such as Flores Lane candles and Ashkahn greeting cards. These rare finds here are only the tip of the iceberg. A deeper look into the shop reveals a secret menu for bicycle services, custom engagement and wedding rings, and a company with character: Catalyst aims to be socially conscious and partners with nonprofit organizations, including Justice Speaks, which works to end human trafficking.
620 1/2 S. La Brea Ave.