by Cadien Clark - 3347 Reviews - 62 List
Downtown LA may be known as the land of warehouse sales, Santee Alley, last-minute fashion shows, insiders who never pay retail (oh, to know someone who works at The Mart) and, now, cool pop-up shops. But let it be said that there have been great brick-and-mortar Downtown LA shops holding it down for years. From an Icelandic custom clothier to the city's oldest and largest ethnic market, this ain't no flash-in-the-pan consumer wasteland.
Updated: August 18, 2010
One trip through its buzzing stalls, and it's easy to see why this incredible open-air market has been a landmark sight and community center since 1917. The fresh fruits and vegetables, meats, fish, poultry, herbs, spices, candies, nuts, plants and more exotic goods from over 38 merchants are the reason this enormous operation is still thriving today. It should be a stop on any new arrival's itinerary.
If gorgeous, proper high-end vintage is your thing, (and whose isn't it?), then you're probably already familiar with this space brimming with red-carpet-ready frocks, flowing bohemian skirts and fiercely fashion-forward separates. And because there's so much stock, prices are within reach of all party-hopping sartorialists, not just those, a la Olsen twin, with deep coffers of gold sitting around the house.
"Fearless Icelandic fashion designer opens up shop on Skid Row." Even if the LA Times didn't run such a headline when local legend Dottir first started custom-designing clothes in our town, her move to the area was surprising back when these were the meanest of streets. These days, Angelenos already having lunch at a nearby cafe, or those simply out for a walk, pop by to meet her and peruse this original boutique full of pretty printed dresses and slightly more daring evening wear.
Tune in to Little Tokyo: Second Street's appealing streetwear boutique carries all the heavy hitters in that genre: Hellz Bellz, Crooks and Castles, Cheap Monkey, The Hundreds, Fuct, Two in the Shirt and their in-house eponymous line. Along with sneaker pimps RIF across the street, and Popkiller Second a few doors down, this store is one of the 'hood's most developed retail stars.
Comme des Garcons 3D zebra mini coin purse? Murakami keychain? Ed Ruscha or Yoshitomo Nara or Jeff Koons beach towel? Ruben Toledo note card set? Gah, if you can't find something cool for the buying here, do not blame Downtown LA's largest modern art museum's gift shop. Blame yourself. Limited edition Robert Rauschenberg print? Kiki Smith pillowcase set? Keith Haring condoms ... we could go on and on.