Fashion Pioneersin the Jungles of L.A.

The African Queen (1951) Directed by John HustonShown from left: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn

[quote]Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.[/quote]

Ask someone to define New York style and you’ll get a clean answer – something along the lines of sophisticated, sleek, or black.  Try to get an answer for style in Los Angeles and the answer gets a little messier.  L.A. has the reputation of being a hard city to find one’s way in, but perhaps that is because there is not a clear, straight path to follow.  L.A. doesn’t have well-worn paths.  It is hard to find your way here, because L.A. is a jungle where everyone is bushwhacking their way to sartorial clarity.

Furthermore, we are a city of trailblazers, and our sense of style reflects that – the unifying theme of Angeleno fashion is that it is undefinable, just like its population. L.A. is one of the craziest melting pots you will ever land in. People from all over the world move to the City of Angels to chase dreams, reinvent themselves, and express their ideas.  Their clothing thwarts convenient definitions and easy answers because the people of L.A. do, too.  Angelenos take risks in life as they do in their clothing choices.  They are unafraid to buck trends and rather favor setting them.  In most other cities, to see a man in a beat up cowboy hat and a Bonsu print shirt, sporting Versace sunglasses while driving a BMW would give one pause.  In L.A., where the unusual is usual, people barely bat an eye. (Though, to be fair, in New York, it might not phase you either – you assume it’s the new downtown chic look or someone waiting for his fashion blog photo opp.)

Outside of a few small commercial hubs packed like sardines with big name-brands at the Hollywood and Highland complex or The Grove, L.A. fashion is mostly fueled by the small business mom-and-pop shops that are omnipresent and run by people with unique perspectives and a drive for success   Any type of clothing you want, you got it.  The world-famous Melrose Avenue is obviously home to a panoply of indie-clothing shops, thrift shops, resale shops, and pop-culture shops.  If you’re looking for a $20 thrifted skirt that pairs perfectly with that $500 pair of shoes you just bought, it’s the difference of a few blocks.  You want skateboarding gear?  Come to Fairfax, just north of Beverly.  Want traditional Ethiopian garb?  Head further south on Fairfax past Olympic.  If you need the perfect Quinceañera dress, 54 percent of Koreatown’s population is made up by Latinos.  You know the old anecdote, “a place for everything and everything in its place”?  That’s Los Angeles – it’s got a place for everyone.

Here are a few ideas to get in touch with your inner Angeleno fashion pioneer:

Stella Neptune cashmere elbow patchesFor some upcycled pop-chic, try some Stella Neptune cashmere elbow patches.  What?  Yeah, cashmere elbow patches. Only in L.A.


groceries apparelLike the American Apparel vibe?  Then you’ll love Groceries Apparel a younger, L.A.-based company that specializes in organic cotton clothing.


mens_reading_glasses_black_los_angelesNeed some vintage specs to scope your purchases? Try “independent optical dispensary” Hotel Ville.  

Melrose-Trading-PostIf the flea market junkie in you is just dying to get out, you’re sure to sate it each Sunday at the Melrose Trading Post.